What are the best activities? This is what everyone wants to know. And the answer is that there is no one best activity. Colleges want to see students involved in activities that interest them. Football is not better than theater. Science research is not better than choir. The best activity for you is the one(s) that are of the most interest to you.
How many activities do I need to do? More is not better when it comes to activities. In fact, fewer is often better. Why? Colleges would much rather see you doing just a few activities but having significant involvement in those few activities. Serial joiners, those students who join every club and activity they can find, are not good candidates for the more competitive colleges.
How much time do you need to spend in your activities? There is no set number of hours that you should be involved in your activity but it should be significant. Is that 5 hours a week or 20 hours a week? Depends on the activity and your available time. But if you are only doing one activity and just spending 5 hours a week, the colleges will wonder what you are doing with the rest of your time.
When should you engage in activities? If you are already a junior you need to be involved in at least one activity. NOW. Ideally, you have already been doing some activity for the past few years but it is not too late to get started right now.
Do you need leadership in your activities? Colleges like to have leaders in their student body so it always helps to have a leadership position in your activity. But they also understand that there are only so many leadership positions available in some activities and you might not have been able to get that position. You should try to have at least one activity where you have a leadership position.
There are exceptions to this because some activities don’t have leadership positions in the traditional sense. Do you do a lot of volunteering? Great, but that may not have a leadership position associated with it. That’s alright because colleges do understand this and will not require leadership positions for such students.
The bottom line here is that you need to be significantly involved in some activity which is of interest to you. And hey, if you like the activity that shouldn’t be that hard should it?