Extracurriculars Matter — To You and To Colleges
It’s not all grades and test scores. When you’re applying to college, what happens outside of the classroom is just as important as what happens in it.
Colleges look for students who will excel in their fields of choice. While your grades can show your aptitude in subjects, it’s the passions you pursue on your own that really demonstrate your potential in your chosen career. That’s why extracurricular activities matter so much in the college admissions process.
What are Extra Curricular activities?
By definition, extracurricular activities are activities that are “pursued in addition to the normal course of study.”
However, when it comes to your college applications, though, extracurriculars are a bit more complex than this — they require a consistent time commitment, a degree of responsibility and initiative, and in the best cases, a level of leadership not demonstrated in the classroom.
Examples of extracurricular activities are: being a member of a sports team, serving as chief editor of your school newspaper, or participating in a regional competition. Working a part-time job and volunteering also count as extracurriculars.
What are the benefits of extracurricular activities?
Now that you understand what extracurriculars are and how they add to your college applications, let’s look at the benefits of extracurricular activities for high school students:
1. Improved Academic Performance
Some students worry that participating in extracurriculars may take away too much time from their schoolwork, thus hurting their grades; however, extracurricular activities can actually improve your grades and your outlook on school in general! Research has shown time and time again that students reap many rewards from participating in extracurricular activities, including earning higher grades and test scores. This, of course, means you’ll be a more desirable candidate overall; not only will you have activities on your resume, but they will also shine through in your academic performance.
2. Explore passion and career interest
Nobody expects you to have your career path completely nailed down by the time you apply for college. High school is a time for exploration, and extracurricular activities allow you to facilitate that. By sampling different clubs, organizations, and projects, you’ll be able to get a sense of the kinds of things you like to do and the areas in which you excel. Even if you already have areas about which you’re passionate, extracurricular activities can help you develop, enhance, and further explore them.
3. Broader social skills
Let’s be honest, making friends can be hard but one of the easiest ways to make friends is through extracurricular activities!
Each extracurricular you engage in provides you with another opportunity to expand your social network, which will also come in handy when you’re looking for a job. Extracurricular activities can also aid in the development of self-esteem and confidence. It is gratifying when we succeed in something we enjoy, especially after working hard to achieve it. Good self-esteem is an essential tool for positive mental health and wellbeing.
4. Develop essential life skills
One of the greatest advantages extracurricular activities give you are “real world” skills. Participating in extracurriculars allows you to further develop your talents by diving deep into a topic of interest.
These skills include (but are not limited to):
- Goal setting
- Time management
- Problem solving
- Analytical thinking
- Public speaking
5. Productive Breaks
We all need a break from work. Extracurriculars not only give you that — they also give you something fun to do aside from school. It also gives you the chance to explore your passions to discover things you may be interested beyond academics while taking some time off hitting the book. Take the much-needed break, you deserve it!
Extracurriculars are a critical part of your college/university application, as they demonstrate who you are outside of the classroom and provide an opportunity to showcase your leadership skills and community involvement. The lessons you’ll learn from participating in meaningful extracurricular activities will help you with everything from getting a job, to applying to universities overseas, to just living your life.
So; go join a club, start an online class or volunteer. What are you waiting for?
Coming up in the next newsletters:
- What college admission officers look for?
- Do’s & Don’t of extra-curricular
Africa Federation Education Board