If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

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Our counselors answered:

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

The "right" activites do not exist!

Colleges today are looking for students who they deem "passionate", who are excited about intellectual ideas, who desire to learn for its own sake. They view extracurriculars the same way. They want to see that you feel strongly about your activities, whether it is sports, community service or in the arts. if your schools does offer options that excite you- look to your neighborhood. Volunteer, join a community theater or try an atypical sport likes fencing or martial arts. Don't allow yourself to feel limited. You can even take an online class or get a job! It is not about finding the "right" activity, but one that would offer you some personal satisfaction. Make it right!

Susan Karasek
Guidance Counselor Estrella Foothills High School

How do I show that I am a leader and involved?

Colleges and Scholarships are looking for student leaders who are involved in some way. This may include joining a club or sport but there are several ways students can share about their involvement within their school and community. For example you can discuss your hobbies, church activities, family activities, volunteer and communtiy service, involvement in band, choir, or student government involvement. Students who participated in travel abroad programs can write about their experiences. Students may also have family obligations such as taking care of siblings, farm animals, or a sick family member. Basically anything you do outside of class that you do not get paid for shows that you are involved.

Erin Avery
Certified Educational Planner Avery Educational Resources, LLC

Extra! Extra!

Read all about it: if you haven't identified some extracurriculars, you may suffer from being boring. Extracurriculars are yours for the choosing! Explore, be vulnerable, discover your passions! Become who you are, not because it looks good for college, but because you are here on this earth for a purpose: find it! What do you love? Kids? Elderly people? Special needs folks? Music? Military? Photography? Debate? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? ...Now go try it. The world needs you to be fully who you are! If you are a good student, you will remain a good student. But who else are you? "In the world, you may be just one person, but to one person, you could be the world."

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Extracurriculars Won't Get You In

Short answer: Extracurriculars show how good you are at extracurriculars; good grades show how dedicated you are as a student. Detailed answer: Admissions departments would rather see an outstanding academic record with no extracurriculars than a weak or average academic record filled with extracurriculars. We are quite disheartened when we see a two page resume of extracurricular activities accompanying an average transcript. The extracurriculars won't get you in; great grades will. Don’t spread your energy too thin. As far as extracurriculars go, choose one or two areas on which to focus and achieve leadership. It shows an ability to commit your energies in a meaningful way and still excel in the classroom.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

The college admissions office does not require any student to “appear in any specific way”. In fact, the process is to discover who you are as a person in reality. Finding the “right extra curricular activity” sometimes takes time. Some people take longer than others to find their niche or to figure out what it is that they really enjoy doing what they like to do. That said, colleges seek students with passion because if you showed passion for an activity during high school, then they believe that you’ll carry that passion for learning or for being open-minded and expecting of new ideas. So colleges are looking not for a well-rounded student, they want a well-rounded class. Which means that a lot of the elite schools, you will find that there are students who excel in maybe one activity via sport or art or writing or drama or whatever it may be. My advice would be to explore all of your options as early as possible. And when you find something that really resonates with you and that you really and truly enjoy, then you pursue that with everything that you have. There are numerous, summer programs and greatly involved that you can expand on that activity. However, let me be specific: no prospective college student should ever pursue any activity or take any step nearly because he or she thinks that it will appear at any certain way to the colleges. Colleges can see through that. In fact, the right choice and the best choice for you as a person in your personal growth is for you to pursue what makes you happy. So if you hadn’t developed a passion for any particular activity, then keep looking. The options are endless and boundless meaning that you can do whatever you want to do. In the end, those who are the most forward thinking and creative are usually the students who are accepted to colleges because they are thinking outside the box.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

There is no such thing as the "right" extracurricular, except the one or two about which your are truly passionate. Find an activity - in or out of school - that you love to do, involve yourself deeply in it, enjoy it, and grow with it. That will benefit you as a person first - and as a side benefit, the right colleges will appreciate that you've done that, too. Don't tailor your life to a college or colleges - do what "feeds" you, what you love to do, and do it passionately and with joy - then find colleges that want you for who and what you are. You will be a good match for each other.

Eileen Ed.D.
Associate Director Educational Directions, Inc.

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

A "dedicated student" is one who is committed to learning. Your particular areas of interest may vary from other dedicated students, but it is your commitment to those specific areas that are of interest to admissions officers. So, for example, if you really enjoy History and take all of the courses you can (and do well in them!), an admissions counselor will see a level of commitment that is important. If you can supplement that commitment with extra curricular activities that complement your interest, that is wonderful! But it is not always possible. Some students, for example, may have to hold down a part time job after school, or look after younger siblings, not leaving much time in the day for other activities. Others attend schools in areas with limited opportunities for outside activities. So, if this is the situation for you, do not panic! It does not make you look any less invested in, or committed to, your education! If you work or take part in an unrelated activity (such as a sport completely unrelated to your academic interest), create a resume of these types of activities. You may even use that "is there anything else we should know about you" section to describe how you take care of your siblings, or engage in hobbies after school. Your dedication and sense of responsibility to the things you do will be the thing that makes you look truly dedicated, not the number or types of things.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

Yes. That assumes you were heavily involved in community service & have at least 100's of hrs.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

Sure. Each individual student's intellectual journey is different. What is most important is that you are able to articulate in your application essays, and possibly in interviews, what and how you have learned from the experiences that you have had.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

If I haven't found the right extracurriculars, can I still appear to be a dedicated student?

Depth and not breadth counts with extra curricular activities. If you have tried a bit of this and a bit of that then it is time to buckle down and pick an activity to focus on while still participating in a variety of activities. If you are a junior then your selection of an activity should be based on your level of passion for the activity combined with the availability of the activity. You need to show a time commitment so if the activity that you are most passionate about is going to be unavailable to you then you need to select the next best choice. It is never too late to begin to show a dedication to a specific activity.