While you’re in high school, teachers tend to emphasize the importance of grades, SAT scores, and course difficulty when assessing college readiness. In addition to those elements, extracurriculars are heavily weighed during the college admission process. When a student engages in extracurricular activities while maintaining satisfactory grades, it demonstrates their ability to manage time and balance academic and personal life. Student activities also allow you to explore your talents, hobbies, and passions, which can be helpful when choosing your future career path. Although it can be difficult to showcase activities joined later in high school on your college applications, here are the best ways to make those extracurriculars count no matter how long you’ve participated in them.
Run for leadership positions
Leadership is one of the key qualities college admission officers search for when choosing from thousands of applications. Leadership demonstrates responsibility and dedication to your passions and interests. During your last years of high school, joining and participating in a club or two is all well and good, but if you wish to stand out, leadership positions earn excellent praise. For example, if you enjoy playing video games in your spare time and your school has a gaming club, try running for an officer position like president. If you’re thinking about majoring in Political Science in college, run for secretary of your student council. If you love an adrenaline rush, join a sports team and put the work in to become a captain. If you want to earn money too, there are various well-esteemed paid internships offered to high school students, such as the Bank of America Student Leaders Program. Earning a leadership position may be more difficult if you haven’t been part of the club prior to your last year of high school, but it isn’t impossible—you just have to exhibit the desire and dedication.
Related: Leadership in High School: What Does It Mean?
Create a club or organization
As we’ve said, exhibiting the qualities of a leader is one of the best ways to enhance your college résumé. Creating a club at your school or an organization within your community also demonstrates leadership. From professional rock climbers to those who spend their entire weekend binging Netflix shows, anyone could create a club if they’re truly invested in it. If you enjoy baking or cooking, create a culinary club where members learn how to create unique dishes. If you love watching Netflix, create a TV club where members watch a television show together then discuss their thoughts after each episode, similar to a book club. If you enjoy doing TikTok dances, create a dance club!
If you have social anxiety and don’t wish to communicate with peers in person, COVID-19 has introduced numerous new ways to communicate virtually. Any of the previously mentioned clubs can be implemented online through applications such as Zoom, Google Meets, Slack, Discord, and Geneva. Student-led online organizations such as iFeminst and Youth Activism Alliance are currently on the rise and worth looking into as a place to start. Another benefit is that students from all over the globe could participate in your online club, leading to greater diversity and a wider range of perspectives.
Join a team
Engaging in physical activities is not only an excellent way to ease stress and have fun but also helps exhibit your time management skills and commitment. If you’re not interested in athletic pursuits, there are many other team-oriented opportunities, including debate teams or theater. These activities highlight a student’s ability to work well with a team toward a shared goal, which is an indispensable skill in numerous career fields and highly valued in college admission. Students are likely to also develop meaningful and strong relationships with their teammates.
Find volunteer opportunities
Volunteering enables students to altruistically give back to their community while gaining professional experience. Serving food at your local food bank, donating blood through the American Red Cross, and tutoring elementary school kids are all notable community service events students participate in every year. A good tip is to engage in one volunteer activity habitually instead of multiple volunteering activities once to show your commitment to a cause you care about. By doing so, your service will make a lasting impact on others—and on your résumé.
Related: Volunteering on Your College Applications
To prepare for your upcoming years in college—and to get admitted to your schools of interest—engaging in extracurricular activities is of the utmost importance. Whether you’re a high school freshman just getting started or a senior in the process of completing college applications, it’s never too late to engage in new extracurricular activities and make them count with the time you have. The possibilities are endless.
If you’re still wondering how after-school activities can help you get into college, check out our article on How Extracurriculars Benefit Your College Applications.