Activities and the College Experience

As a part of your college applications, you’ll be asked to report your extracurricular activities. Colleges want to know more about you than just your grades and test scores – they’re curious about your interests, and how you’ve spent your time outside the classroom. As you provide colleges the full picture of you, keep in mind our tips below.

Explain your role in each activity. Colleges don’t just want a simple list of your extracurricular activities. They want to know how you spent your time within each one. Did you organize the museum outing for the French club? Serve on the fundraising committee for the band? Help plan the transportation for the swim team? Make sure to include these details.

Emphasize leadership. Admissions committees love hearing about leadership. And though the titles “team caption” and “club president” will certainly stand out, remember that you can demonstrate leadership in other subtle ways. If you took the initiative to organize the bake sale for the marketing club, or mentored younger students on the lacrosse team, let the college know.

Use your college essay. Your college essay might be the perfect place for you to share the details of your involvement in a certain activity. Your passion for a club or team, and your level of participation within it, might not come through in other parts of your application. Consider using your essay to give more details, and share your enthusiasm, about your activities.

Include non-school involvement. If you participate in activities outside of your high school, remember to include them as well. Involvement in city athletic clubs, places of worship, volunteer organizations, and part-time jobs all need to be shared on your application.

Think outside the box. It’s easy to list your sports teams, clubs, and music involvement on your activities list. But how else are you spending your time? Do you drive a grandparent to doctors’ appointments on a regular basis? Are you responsible for babysitting younger siblings after school? Do you mow the lawn of an elderly neighbor? Let the college know about these important commitments.

As you build your activities list, talk to friends and family to make sure you remember everything of importance. You might forget about your participation in a clothing drive during your sophomore year, or your experience leading a Sunday School class one summer. Have a few people close to you review your list to make sure you’ve included all of your involvement over the past four years. You’ll want to make sure that the colleges know how you’ve spent your time – it will help each of them get a fuller picture of you!