A student’s time is valuable. Some of the best years of your life can seem clogged up with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, leaving very little time for fun stuff like hanging out with your friends and family. The schoolwork is unavoidable and, for the college-minded student, so are the extracurriculars. But there are some things to keep in mind when deciding what activities to take part in.
More Isn’t Always Better
In a poll, college admissions counselors from both Drexel and Penn stated that they are obviously interested in the extracurricular activities of prospective students, but that it’s painfully noticeable if a student is simply filling up their resume with unimportant activities arbitrarily. Pick a manageable amount of activities based on your interests and that are fun for you to be involved in, not what you want your application to look like.
The counselors also said that they look at how long the prospective student was active in their activities. Again, it’s noticeable if someone is just trying to fill out a resume with whatever is available and hopping around from various clubs and sports. Their most successful candidates had been in their few select activities through most of their high school careers.
Be a Leader
Speaking of longevity, when you have been a member of a club or team for a few years, chances are you will have opportunities to rise to leadership positions within those particular activities, something that the counselors mentioned as being very impressive. They want to see the growth of the student, from the little freshman who did the grunt work for National Honor Society to the senior who was elected president. Club members rarely elect the new guy or girl to leadership positions.
Don’t Forget the Other Stuff
Even in all this talk about extracurriculars, the counselors wanted to reiterate that it doesn’t matter how many cool activities you have in your application if your grades start slipping or your SAT/ACT scores aren’t up to par. Their goal is to find well-rounded citizens who will contribute to their university community, but it is the academic successes of the students that really help the school prosper. If you truly feel pulled in so many directions that you aren’t keeping up with the #1 priority (grades), there is no shame in taking a break from a couple of your after-school activities until you get a better handle. Awesome grades and scores attract much more attention from competitive schools than whether or not you were the vice president of the recycling club.