In part one of the early college planning discussion I discussed the courses to take to impress college admissions officers. In part two I discussed standardized tests that should be considered early in the college admissions process. Now let’s discuss how extra curricular activities need to be considered early in the college process.
All colleges like to see students involved in activities in high school and the more selective the college, the more that extra curricular activities are important. At the highly selective colleges the vast majority of the applicants have great grades and great test scores. But colleges want more than great grades. They want interesting students. So how does the college decide who is interesting and deserving of admissions?
Extra curricular activities are one of the most important ways that colleges use to find the interesting students who will make a contribution to the college.
And the best news is that colleges don’t care what activity the student is involved with.
Sports, music, speech, or whatever interests the student can be a good activity. Extra curricular activities may be something outside official school activities. What is most important is a focus on a specific activity.
What does it mean to be focused on a specific activity? Let me give you an example. If you are an accomplished tuba player, colleges would like to see you focused on that activity. You might be in the band, the pep band and a local dixie land band. You might mentor younger students who have an interest in playing the tuba. You might play for local nursing homes. What you do with your activity isn’t that important. What is important is that the college can see that this is a real interest of yours.
Colleges also like to see students getting involved in leadership activities if your interest has such a structure. Let’s look at our tuba player again. If the band has section leaders he might want to become section leader. If they have band officers he might want to try to become a band officer.
Colleges do not want to see students who join every activity they can find but don’t get involved in any of them.
It is alright to explore options as freshman and sophomores but as you progress, you should ideally start to focus on one or two of the activities that you enjoy the most.
Next, in our early planning series, I will discuss the potential importance of work as an activity for college admissions.