It might seem impossible to find extracurricular activities that will make you stand out to college admission boards when money is a factor—especially if your peers are backpacking across Europe or taking expensive horseback riding lessons. Great extracurriculars with little to no expense may seem like a rare breed, but no matter where you are, amazing opportunities exist that are sure to put the spotlight on you. Here are just a few examples of impressive yet inexpensive student activities.
Skill-based extracurricular activities
Experimenting in skill-based extracurricular activities is a wonderful place to start building your résumé. Everyone has something they excel at; whether it’s sports, a school subject, a hobby, or another skill, there’s most likely an extracurricular for it! Begin by simply scouring the internet for clubs, groups, competitive meets/championships, and other extracurricular activities related to your skills. Most skill-based clubs on the internet are free, and there may be some inexpensive or free clubs near you.
For example, if you excel at spelling, you may consider joining a club that’s designated to bettering your skills and competing in competitions. Joining a local spelling bee club in your area is a great way to earn awards for your college applications, show that you’re dedicated to bettering yourself, and showcase your special skills. Many schools also host spelling bee competitions! If your school doesn’t, you can always show initiative and bring the idea to your school board. This portrays leadership, initiative, and passion—all of which college admission boards look for. This applies to any skill or interest and is inexpensive to do.
Related: How to Navigate High School Clubs and Activities
Volunteer-based extracurricular activities
Volunteering is an amazing way to strengthen your college applications—and it doesn’t have to fall into the typical categories. If you’re interested in business, volunteering to hold a sign for your local market is just one example of how you can portray your passion for the business industry. Other examples include pursuing unpaid internships for scientific research, volunteering your time at an aquarium for those interested in marine biology, or asking about opportunities at your parents’ workplace(s) if allowed. Volunteering doesn’t cost a penny, and it’s an exceptional way to gain unique experiences and impress colleges at the same time.
School-based extracurricular activities
Chances are that your school has a variety of clubs, positions, and other special opportunities for you to choose from. Taking advantage of these is a crucial part of increasing your extracurricular involvement. From chess club to student council, high schools offer many benefits outside of the hours you’re required to be there. National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society are also hosted by most schools and are impressive to college admission officers. If you can’t find something you’re interested in at your school, try starting your own club! This demonstrates leadership, which many college admission boards are looking for when choosing applicants. Taking advantage of the opportunities available at your school is one of the easiest ways to get more involved with extracurriculars without spending a lot of money (if any).
Related: Video: Get Involved: Unique Clubs to Join in School
You don’t have to break the bank to impress college admission boards with your quantitative and qualitative list of extracurriculars. From choosing activities based on your skills to opting for volunteering or school-based clubs, you have many different opportunities to show your skill set and boost your college applications. Ensure that you choose extracurriculars that mean something to you, as this will aid you in finding your passion. Extracurriculars are there for everyone, whether you face economic challenges or not.
Find other great ways to make your applications stand out in our College Admission section.