You’ve heard it all before: Colleges like to see applicants who participate in a plethora of high school extracurricular activities and still get good grades. Counselors, teachers, and parents instill in your mind the idea that you must be the most involved, interesting people in the world. High school students want to participate in all these things, but there are some factors that stand in the way. Many students don’t know how to get involved because they simply don’t know where to start. Other students feel they can't find the time to join clubs or volunteer.
I believe being involved in your community and extracurriculars is a vital part of life (in high school, college, and beyond). After all these years, I’ve even learned to love the rush of going from one activity to the next, and I think anyone can learn to find and appreciate your extracurricular activities—even with a busy schedule. So if you’re a high school student wondering where to get started, how to find the time, and what extracurricular activities to pick, look no further.
How to find extracurricular opportunities in high school
Many high school students feel there are no extracurricular opportunities for them outside of joining a sports team, but there are usually many ways students can get involved in their schools and communities—sports are just the tip of the iceberg! High school students can join after-school clubs, volunteer with nonprofits, intern for local businesses, or join local student leadership organizations. Look for fun, meaningful activities that can teach you a lot, introduce you to good friends, and give you ideas about what to do for your future. Here’s how you can seek out the right opportunities.
Think about what interests you
The most important thing to consider before joining a club or organization is what you like to do. If you are going to spend hours every week willingly doing something, you need to enjoy it—or you’re probably going to bail. Do you like dogs? Volunteer with a local animal rescue or shelter. Want to learn a new language? Join sign language or Latin club. Do you like sports? Get involved with coaching an Upward or other youth team. It might help to brainstorm a list of these interests and keep it handy as you search for opportunities.
Ask and investigate
More likely than not, your teachers, parents, high school counselors, and spiritual leaders know more about what’s going on in your community than you do, and they won't mind helping you out. Other good sources for extracurricular and/or volunteer opportunities include your local librarians, police, firefighters, and city councilors. And never underestimate the power of simple Google search! If you brainstormed a list of interests, use it as a checklist to search for opportunities.
Join clubs or organizations at your school
This sounds obvious, but it’s a reminder that you don’t need to travel far or go crazy trying to find extracurriculars. Participating in clubs at your high school is one of the easiest ways to get involved in your community because the groups are readily available to you. My high school has over 30 clubs and organizations that students can join, even though it’s a relatively small school.
Check social media and read local newspapers
I wouldn't know about half of the things going on in my community if I did not have Facebook. Social media serves as the perfect outlet for organizations to advertise events they’re trying to market to young people. Many newspapers and magazines feature a calendar covering what’s going on in their communities so citizens can get involved. You might be surprised by what you find.
How to get to club meetings
Now you know how to find extracurricular activities, but what are you supposed to do if you don't have a car? Without transportation, the range of activities high school students can participate in becomes limited, but there are still ways to get involved. Obviously, it’s easy to stay at school at the end of the day for a club meeting. Or if you live within walking distance from a YMCA or other community center, you may be able to participate in intramural sports. If this doesn’t work for you, ask local organizations what you can do to help from home. High school students who consider themselves tech-savvy can manage websites, or creative students might design fliers. Others who excel in rhetoric and grammar can volunteer to write for online blogs, like CollegeXpress!
How to find the time in high school
Between going to school, studying, homework, and maybe even a part-time job, it seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to participate in extracurricular activities. However, time isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You must make the time to do clubs you really want to get involved in. Sit down and plot out your schedule—and take an honest look at what you do with your downtime—you might be surprised by just how much free time you have. Whether you give up one Saturday every month to volunteer or one hour every week to attend club meetings, you’re making the time to engage with others and prepare for your future.
Colleges want you to be involved in your high school and community. It can teach you a lot about yourself and what you want in life—and it'll probably make you happy too. Colleges and universities want to know that you will be an active member of their campus communities and that they can count on you to implement positive change in the world around you. There are plenty of ways to get involved; now it’s your job to go out and find them.
Want to know more about How Extracurriculars Benefit Your College Applications? Read on to find out today!