Extracurriculars are always stressed in the college application process. It might seem important to be involved in tons of activities in various areas to seem well-rounded, but what’s more important is discovering, doing, and committing to what you love to do. For students deciding what teams and clubs they want to be involved in during high school or looking to join new extracurriculars, here are a few things to consider.
1. Don’t join just to join
This may be the most important piece of advice when contemplating extracurriculars. Don’t join anything just for a résumé builder! When deciding what groups to choose, think about what you want, not what you think colleges will like best. Pick what you love and your passion will show through on any résumé or application. Colleges look for students who stick with what they love, so try to join early and be involved regularly.
2. Don’t let friends sway you
Although it can be beneficial to hear your friends’ opinions on what extracurriculars they like, don’t let anyone convince you to join a group you know you won’t enjoy. While having fun and spending time with your friends is important, you should have a focus and a passion for whatever the group is. Joining an extracurricular just because your friends are doesn’t contribute to that. Besides, you could make some new friends if you join a group you like!
3. Try something new
Joining a new activity with no previous experience or connections to anyone in the group can be daunting. No matter how intimidating, it’s well worth giving a new experience a shot if it’s something you’re interested in. You never know what could turn into a lifelong passion or possible career route. Whether it’s working up the courage to try out for the lacrosse team, join mock trial, or take part in a community service group, it’s always worth it to go to at least one day of tryouts or one meeting just to see if it interests you. If it does, you’ve found a great new activity to love. If not, you haven’t wasted time—it’s just a step in the process of elimination.
4. Create a group
If your school doesn’t have a specific club or sport you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to find others with that common interest and create your own extracurricular. Most schools will require a minimum number of people interested before they’ll allow a new group, so having friends supporting it is always a plus. If your school doesn’t allow new activities to be added, don’t be discouraged. You can always find a way to get involved with it in your local community.
5. Show your passion
When you finally discover a group that interests you, don’t participate halfway. If you’re truly passionate about the activity, it’s always worth giving it 110%. Not only will this involvement be enjoyable, but your love of the activity will shine through on college applications and in recommendation letters. Whether practicing a sport on your own to earn that starting spot or spending time memorizing lines for a performance, outside commitment to an activity will show.
There's a lot of advice out there on how to get and stay involved in extracurricular activities, but these are the basics. If you take nothing else away, it's that while your extracurriculars will certainly help your college applications, they should also be fun for you and bring fulfillment to your life. Dedicate your time to the activities you truly care about, find value in, and grow from—and those things will shine through on your future applications.
Did you know you can win a lot of scholarships related to your extracurriculars too? With our Scholarship Search tool, you can start applying today!