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Unique Extracurricular Activities for a Better College Application

Extracurriculars can give you an edge in college admission, but unique activities can really make your résumé stand out. Learn how to pursue them here!

Extracurricular activities are a crucial part of college applications. They help admission officers understand your interests and aspirations while offering a glimpse into your life and passions—so it's a good idea to participate in activities that genuinely interest you. It’s even better when your activities and experiences are unique and stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ideas for different activities you could pursue to get an edge on college admission.

The importance of extracurriculars in the admission process

When it comes to extracurriculars and college admission, there are a few rules that aren’t exactly unique but ring true for every student. Admission officers value quality over quantity, so it's okay if you don’t participate in a bunch of activities. You can show colleges you’re committed and have had a meaningful experience with your chosen pursuit. However, it's still possible to juggle multiple interests and hobbies. I have many hobbies, but I dedicate quality time to each of them. You just need to put effort and time into each activity if you want to make it work. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy it!

Related: How Extracurriculars Benefit Your College Applications

What makes an extracurricular activity unique?

"Unique” extracurriculars are activities that aren’t as mainstream, but the unique aspect could also be something that makes your experience stand out, adding distinctive value to your college applications. For example, you might play polo or rugby, which are not as common these days. Alternatively, you might play a pretty common sport like soccer. To make your experience more unique, you could work to become the manager or captain, which requires you to take charge by implementing strategies, organizing events, and fostering team spirit—therefore increasing your involvement and leadership. Other examples of unique activities include ventriloquism, choreography, fashion design, and snorkeling. These types of hobbies help you develop important skills but also make your résumé more interesting and memorable. Let’s dive deeper into these different categories of unique activities that are sure to impress colleges.

Sports that stand out

When we think of extracurricular activities, sports may be one of the first things that come to mind. It's no surprise that athletics are a popular pastime for students, with the option of both school and club sports providing a wide variety of choices. From gymnastics to golf, soccer to dance, the opportunities are endless. Some unique options include pickleball, rugby, archery, and surfing. When it comes to choosing which sport(s) to pursue, it's important to go with something that you genuinely enjoy and can see yourself putting in time and effort to improve. Don't forget that practice makes perfect (or close to it)!

Related: The College Intramural Sports You Want to Play

Clubs and other activities

There are so many other extracurricular options to highlight to colleges, from organized activities like Girl Scouts to hobbies like music and writing. There are likely many opportunities in your community and not just at your school too. Identify a unique interest and see if it matches the mission of a local organization; all it takes is a little effort to ask around and get involved. Try to find a leadership opportunity if possible, or you could even create your own club dedicated to something you love—this shows initiative and drive, which colleges love. If you don’t have many opportunities in your town or school, there are a lot of online extracurriculars as well. I was interested in writing and reached out to CollegeXpress to join their Student Writing Program. This is my fourth article, and it is so fun! If you’re interested in becoming a student ambassador for CollegeXpress by creating vlogs or writing articles, be sure to check out their website!

Create your own

When it comes to finding something fun and fulfilling to do in your free time, there's no need to limit yourself to traditional clubs, sports, or other activities. You can explore a variety of self-taught hobbies that can be just as rewarding and impressive on a résumé. If you find that formal activities are too expensive or don't meet your needs, don't worry! You can always turn to the vast resources on YouTube for lessons and inspiration on just about anything you want to learn. Whether you're interested in mastering soccer tricks, learning how to sew, or playing the piano, you can find a wealth of information online. Pursuing a hobby on your own can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s worth it to give it a try; it might turn into a lifelong hobby or even a future college major or career. And remember, you don't have to let anyone else dictate what you can and can't do. If you're passionate about or interested in something, go for it, and don't take no for an answer!

Related: Great Extracurricular Activities That Won't Break Your Bank Account

When it comes to finding unique extracurriculars that stand out to colleges, there are countless opportunities available to you, but it can be daunting to figure out where to start. My advice is to focus on doing what you love rather than just thinking about what will look good on a college application; seeing your passion shine through is what truly impresses college admission officers. If there isn't a club or organization that aligns with your interests, consider starting your own to explore your unique passions. Remember, extracurricular activities don't have to be formal or structured—you can try out sports, join clubs, or simply pursue your hobbies on your own, and it can be as simple as watching YouTube videos to learn how to start. Whatever you decide to do, don't hesitate to take the first step and start exploring. Good luck!

Looking for more ways to shine in the admission process? Check out Our Best Advice for Tackling Your College Applications for help with your activity lists, admission essays, and more. 

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