What Extracurricular Activities Are Colleges Interested In?

While most colleges place more weight on academic achievement than participation in extracurricular activities, they do prefer applicants who are involved in projects or organizations outside of school. The particular extracurricular activities aren't as important as students' depth of involvement in and commitment to the activities. This article explains how colleges view applicants' extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular Activities

According to CollegeBoard.com, colleges view all extracurricular activities as equal, and they do prefer applicants who participate in some activities. Colleges use applicants' extracurricular activities to get an idea of their personality, interests, motivation and commitment. Whichever extracurricular activities high school students choose, they need to have a high level of involvement in them to interest potential colleges.

Important Facts About College Applications & Extracurricular activities

Volunteer Activities Tutoring, working at an animal shelter, fundraising for charity
Work Opportunities Summer jobs, internships, summer jobs
School Activities Athletic teams, student government, special-interest clubs, band/choral groups
Community/Local Activities Community theater, art, and music groups, neighborhood associations, local clubs and sports teams
Median Weekly Earnings (2018)$862 (Associate's degree)
$1,198 (Bachelor's degree)
$1,434 (Master's degree)
$1,825
(Doctoral degree)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)11% growth '(Associate's and postsecondary nondegree-level occupations)
10% growth
(Bachelor's-level occupations)
17% growth
(Master's-level occupations)
13% growth
(Doctoral- and professional-level occupations)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Seek Leadership Positions in Activities

Colleges are often more interested in the roles that students play in their extracurricular activities than in what the specific activities are. You might be better off being the president of a club with five members than as a member of a 100-person organization. Taking leadership positions in extracurricular activities demonstrates initiative, commitment and good social skills, all of which are qualities colleges look for.

Choose Activities that Reflect Various Interests

It is advisable to take part in extracurricular activities that show you're well-rounded and have a variety of interests. Demonstrating varied interests helps college admissions officers get a better understanding of your personality. One thing to keep in mind with this advice is that you probably shouldn't participate in activities that don't truly interest you or ones to which you aren't willing to commit.

Balance Activities with Schoolwork

One important factor that you should remember regarding extracurricular activities is the finite amount of time available each day. Never choose extracurricular activities over academic achievement, and be sure to set aside enough time for studying. While impressive extracurricular activities can help academically qualified applicants be admitted into their school of choice, they aren't as valuable to applicants who have lower grades and test scores.

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