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

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

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless 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.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless 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 100’s of hrs.

Eric Scheele

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

The admissions process is mainly about highlighting all of your strengths and making yourself look like the best candidate for that school. Sometimes students are not active in normalized extracurriculars, but do have great achievements in other areas. This could be a job, helping your family, being a leader with your friends. Make sure to think creatively about your activities and the way you spend your time.

Tyler BurtonPresident 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.

Eileen Ed.D.Associate DirectorEducational 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.

Randi HeathmanIndependent Educational ConsultantThe Equestrian College Advisor LLC

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

The “right” extracurriculars for you are probably going to be a lot different than the “right” extracurriculars for another student. The main idea behind the list of things that you do outside of the classroom is to show the admission office that there’s more to you than just the grades on your transcript. There are lots of ways to do that! Maybe you have a part-time job that’s prevented you from playing sports or participating in the National Honor Society – that’s okay! Make sure that you clearly spell out how many hours per week that you work and paint a clear picture for the admission officer that your job has given you skills and characteristics that other students have earned through participation in sports, etc. Or perhaps you play a sport year-round and it keeps you so busy that you don’t have time to join clubs or assume leadership roles within your student council. That’s okay too! Once again, you simply need to communicate your dedication to your sport to the admission office. Conversely, if you’re one of those students who has tried a little bit of everything and hasn’t yet found your niche, that’s a perfect opportunity to write an essay (or short answer, depending on the school) that explains why you’ve shopped around so much in high school and what you’re hoping to discover in college. The bottom line is, there is no “right” answer here – it’s all in how you communicate it!

Mark GathercoleUniversity AdvisorIndependent 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.

Rohit GoyalIvy League CounselorHarvard University

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

Yes definitely. In your complete profile you have points for everything like grades, scores, recommendations, essays, extracurricular etc. Even if you don’t have right extracurriculars you can compensate it with rest of the others.

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

Some of my clients have had this same issues. One of the first things you need to recognize is that you don’t need to have saved orphans in Africa, cured cancer, or be a state champion to standout in the crowd with regard to the college admission process. Rather, sometimes even the seemingly simplest things going on in your life can be used to showcase who you are as a person. For instance, I had a client who moved from Connecticut to Ohio. Upon moving to Ohio, he didn’t get very involved in extracurriculars and his grades and standardized test scores were so so. That said, however, he ended up getting accepted to multiple colleges. Why? Because he was honest on his application in noting that he hadn’t gotten involved in much, perhaps due to being in a new environment, perhaps out of apathy. The important thing is to own who you are because Admission Counselors can spot a fake from a hundred miles away.

Patricia KrahnkePresident/PartnerGlobal 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.

Mr C CoakleyPresidentAcademic Coaching Services

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

Well, you shouldn’t want to “appear” dedicated, rather you should be! Dedication to academic pursuits should be your first priority. Spending time reading beyond school and involving yourself with intellectual activities (research, rocket clubs, academic competitions, etc.) should be your first priority during high school. As for extracurricular activities, choose one or two areas of interest and stick with them. As you gain experience, find special projects to complete or programs that need a particular focus. There’s always work needing to be done on a high school campus or in your surrounding community. Part of “appearing” dedicated is searching for these opportunities, finding them, and then working. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Erica WhiteCollege & Career CounselorMiddletown High School

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

There is no “right” extracuricular activity. It is okay if you explore multiple areas of interest in an attempt to find what you are truley passionate about. The important thing is that you are involved and active. Be the best that you can be within the activities you do chose to do, this shows that you are dedicated to your school, team, club, or community. Do not take up activities just because you think it will look good, picking an activity that you are passtionate about and can talk about in your essay or interview will help you shine much more than doing an activitiy because your mom thought it was a good idea.

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen 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.

Karen O’Neill, MSEdCounselorKSO College Counselling

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

The commonly accepted answer is that colleges are looking for students who have in-depth experience in one or a couple of extra-curricular activities, rather than a student who is involved with many activities, but none in any depth. Always keep in mind that college admissions reps are trying to “build their community” – they know what kind of students they are looking for — but it is your job in your application to give them an honest peek at who you are. So, if you have not yet found “your calling” and have tried on different activities, you should try to address this circumstance in your college essay. In a sense, you want to help the college admissions’ offices understand who you are and what is going on in your life and in your head regarding trying on many different hats! And depending upon what school year you are in, now may be the time to make a commitment to one or two extra curricular activities. Show yourself that you have what it takes to be open minded and to stick with something whether or not it immediately appeals to you. Every situation provides learning opportunities!

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

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

What year are you in school. If you are a senior it does matter that you have not chosen extracurricular opportunities, schools may think that you are only capable of doing class work and not being sociable which may impede your ability to be away from home. It may be time for you to engage in some volunteerism to be a bit more competitive.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

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

What are the “right” extracurriculars? Colleges are looking for involvement in a thousand things. We are looking for a couple of things that you happen to be really involved in. Working in the soup kitchen once in your lifetime doesn’t count. Working in the soup kitchen, organizing your friends to help, starting a club for soup kitchen volunteers, commitment to the soup kitchen…That’s what I am talking about! If that is all that you do, good for you. You don’t have to be the student council president to get admitted to college. There is no “right” extracurricular. Be who you are and explore interests that have meaning for you. Oh, if you work…that is an extracurricular in my book. That show maturity and commitment. Good for you!

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

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

What are the “right” extracurriculars? Colleges are looking for involvement in a thousand things. We are looking for a couple of things that you happen to be really involved in. Working in the soup kitchen once in your lifetime doesn’t count. Working in the soup kitchen, organizing your friends to help, starting a club for soup kitchen volunteers, commitment to the soup kitchen…That’s what I am talking about! If that is all that you do, good for you. You don’t have to be the student council president to get admitted to college. There is no “right” extracurricular. Be who you are and explore interests that have meaning for you. Oh, if you work…that is an extracurricular in my book. That show maturity and commitment. Good for you!

Steven CrispOwner Crisp College Advising

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

If you find yourself in your senior year without a dedicated list of extracurricular activities there are still things you can do to be involved. Volunteer work and community service are big on college campuses and are good ways to round our your involvement. Also, they are usually one time events that you can do on a Saturday. You can show dedication by completing several opportunities with the same organization. If you are still worried about your lack of dedication you can write about it in either your essay or in the other comments section of your application. Simply explain why you were unable to find the right extracurricular activities and talk about your path through the wrong ones.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

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

Being a dedicated “student” doesn’t actually have a lot to do with extracurricular activities, does it? Most colleges and universities, though, are looking for applicants who are MORE than just dedicated students, hovering over their books and making straight A’s, but not doing anything else. Most institutions are looking for well-rounded applicants, who are not only dedicated students, but are also involved with their schools and communities in other ways. If finding “the right extracurriculars” is dependent upon the fact that not many opportunities are available at your high school, it is important (as it always is) that a copy of your high school profile be submitted with your application. College/university admissions officers take into account the extracurricular options or lack of them that were existent in your high school. In this case, you should make efforts to become involved with sports, community service, music, drama, and other activities that are offered in your community. If your high school offers a wide array of activities and opportunities, and you still can’t find the right extracurriculars, you might want to do some serious soul-searching. What are your interests, motives, convictions, and attitudes? Consider these aspects of yourself, and determine how you can best access and take advantage of the opportunities available to you. If you find the right extracurricular outlets, you’ll also have more fun!

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

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

Being a dedicated “student” doesn’t actually have a lot to do with extracurricular activities, does it? Most colleges and universities, though, are looking for applicants who are MORE than just dedicated students, hovering over their books and making straight A’s, but not doing anything else. Most institutions are looking for well-rounded applicants, who are not only dedicated students, but are also involved with their schools and communities in other ways. If not finding “the right extracurriculars” is dependent upon the fact that not many opportunities are available at your high school, it is important (as it always is) that a copy of your high school profile be submitted with your application. College/university admissions officers will take into account the extracurricular options or lack of them that were existent in your high school. In this case, you should make efforts to become involved with sports, community service, music, drama, and other activities offered in your community. If your high school offers a wide array of activities and opportunities, and you still can’t find the right extracurriculars, you might want to do some serious soul-searching. What are your interests, motives, convictions, and attitudes? Consider these aspects of yourself, and determine how you can best access and take advantage of the opportunities available to you. If you find the right extracurricular outlets, you’ll also have more fun!

Henry DelAngeloHigh School Counselor 20 + yearsYour Key to College

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

Finding the right extracurricular activity can be difficult. Sometimes you have think out of the box and create your own. Think about what you are passionate about and start your own club or group even if it is outside of your school. Schools look for students with passion, having a list of me too activities that do not suit you can be a waste of time. Doing something you enjoy and get satisfaction from will make all the difference in the world.

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

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

There are no “right” extra curriculars. Your extra curricular activities should be of interest to you and help you develop outside the classroom. Your grades and teacher recommendations will reflect your dedication as a student. If math is your passion, it makes sense to be a member of the math club, but if you prefer chess that is fine as well.

William Chichester

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

Sure, you can do the following: Get a part-time job! Volunteer Get stellar grades Take prep courses for entrance exams/standardized tests

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

What is the right excurriculum?

doing something you have passions about is not right or wrong. You will be surprised the insignificant things you spend the most time with can be very important to colleges.

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe 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!

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

The “Right” Extracurriculars

A dedicated student understands curricula, develops relationships with teachers, and is passionate about learning. Nearly always, that same dedicated student has subject matter which is clearly his or her favorite. Here’s where you can link that definition to the “right” extracurriculars. If your passion is turning great grades and loving classes, become involved in related activities. Why not start a math team or a French club? If they already exist, join them. Get more involved as a peer coach. Help individuals who are not as fortunate develop that same love for learning by showing them the beauty you see in your favorite subjects. There is no need to become involved in extracurriculars just to list them on your brag sheet. Admissions officers and interviewers can really get a good read on your passions. While they once looked for great grades and standardized test scores, they now look for more. You can do it!

Shelley LevineCertified Educational PlannerCollege Bound

Don’t be afraid to uncover your hidden talents and interests…

To find those talents and interests, speak to your friends about their activities, attend an organization expo at your school, or search the database of community service opportunities in your area. Something will grab your attention and pretty soon you will have a new interest. Colleges are looking for students who will enrich the extracurricular community on campus so be sure you demonstrate your ability to be a contributor on campus by writing about your interests in an essay or describing your involvement in the activity on your resume or activity section of application.

Sandy FurthCollege AdvisorWorld Student Support

Finding your extra curricular or community service path……

Finding a passion or extracurricular activity in high school depends on the educational path you choose in high school. For example, if you decide on the International Baccalaureate, Community-Action-Service (CAS) Hours will be built into the program. Perhaps your school requires a certain amount of community service. If this is or is not the case, reflect on the things you like to do and your strengths; whether they be hobbies or sports, and think about how you would like to put those to good use. For example, if you are a chess player, maybe there is a community program that would benefit from a startup chess program and you can be the chess teacher/coach.

Diana HansonCommon Sense College CounselingCollege Mentors

You’re on a voyage of self-discovery–pursue what interests you…

Do you play a sport, write for the student newspaper, volunteer at your place of worship or in the community, and belong to the debate club? That makes you a well-rounded student with a wide range of interests.  Colleges are looking for curious students who have a zest for life—in addition to having academic credentials—so make your diverse interests an asset by including them in your applications, both in the essay(s) and volunteer/activity listings.  While colleges do like to see some consistency in your extracurriculars, there are also benefits to trying a variety of clubs/sports/activities throughout high school. It shows you’re doing your job–finding out who you are and what you enjoy!

Suzanne PetruchVice President for Enrollment ManagementSt. Mary’s University

Build your portfolio with community and church activities or work…

Over the years as I’ve asked students about their extracurricular activities, I’ve found that a number of them exclude activities that aren’t directly associated with their schools.  It’s not until I prompt them that they begin to reveal what they have contributed through church and community involvement or what experience they’ve gained through work.  You may not have found your passion yet, but I would encourage you to go outside your comfort zone.  Look beyond your school to organizations related to the arts, health, child development, elder care, neighborhood revitalization, and more.  Just don’t forget to keep up your grades once you get involved.

Rachel Smith-Vaughan

What are your interests?

It is important for you to identify what you like to do. If a club does not already exist, then form one. An extracurricular activity does not only revolve around your school, but look within your community, family, religious institution as well as your future interests. For example, shadowing a veterinarian for an extended period of time and volunteering at the local animal shelter demonstrates your passion, dedication, and future career goals.

Jacqueline MurphyDirector of AdmissionsSaint Michael’s College

Passions are not found…they grow…

Finding your “passion” does not happen overnight. If it has not hit you yet it is a good idea to spend quality time with an activity you enjoy rather than spread yourself all over the place and never really have a sense of why you are doing what you are doing. Think about going along with a friend on one of their activities to see what attracts them to the activity, or, break out of your current group of friends and try something totally new.  Stretch yourself and sign up for the next volunteer service program in your school…you’ll find a great new activity and help others at the same time.  Passions are not made-they are discovered…and they grow.

Craig MeisterPresidentTactical College Consulting

Your unique interests should be illustrated through your extracurricular activities …

The key to college admissions success is to parlay preexisting interests into extracurricular pursuits. There is no magic number of activities an applicant should undertake before applying to colleges; however, colleges do want to see that a student has pursued his or her interests deeply outside of the classroom. So, if you have any interests whatsoever, figure out a way to pursue them in the extracurricular realm as opposed to simply pursuing them as hobbies. For example, don’t just play your guitar in your bedroom; share your talent as a guitar tutor, talent show entrant, or local performer.

Jeannie BorinFounder & PresidentCollege Connections

Experiment, focus, and do what you like…

It’s important to portray yourself as a diversified individual on your college applications. The essays and activity resume are great ways to show other sides of yourself not represented in your grades or test scores. It is good to try different activities in order to find what you like most. Once you do, focus on that activity so that by 11th or 12th grade, you can show some initiative and leadership. Simple daily occurrences and hobbies can make for great essay topics. I am reminded of a pre-med student who loved magic. He taught himself numerous tricks and eventually did fundraising shows for his favorite charity. He wrote a great college essay about it!

Kristen TabunDirector of College GuidanceWoodlynde School

Think beyond the typical activities…

While you may not have found an extracurricular activity of great interest, consider subjects that you might be interested in.  This year, I worked with a senior who had very limited extracurricular activities to speak of.  However, he was always interested in astronomy and hoped to have that as his college major.  He had done a great amount of investigation outside of school and was able to design an independent study course in astronomy during his senior year.  The independence and initiative he displayed did, I believe, somewhat compensate for his lack of structured extra-curricular activities. Happily, he was accepted to his first-choice college.

Jill GreenbaumFounder, Independent College CounselorMajor In You

Well-rounded classes not students…

Many students are under the impression that colleges want well-rounded students, when in fact colleges are looking for well-rounded classes, made of many different students.  Discovering and following your passions, skills or hobbies, digging deeply into one or two areas, committing to them, and gaining experience with expertise is really of more interest to colleges.  It’s important to figure out who you are rather than trying to be something you are not.  Start with your interests, talk with friend,s and read to learn about the vast range of extracurricular activities-those in school, in the community, and abroad, then sample some. There are so many possibilities!

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Co-Curriculars: another window into who you are…

For most applicants, the value of co-curricular activities is less about the activities themselves than about what those activities reveal about who you are.  Joining countless clubs, but making little impact may say much about your inability to make a commitment.  An aspiring pre-med who has never volunteered in any medically related area is an applicant festooned with red flags.  If you are not sure of your passion, try something.  Demonstrating your willingness to venture into a new area is no small thing—and the search for the right activity could actually prove to be a great essay topic.   

Jane KlemmerFounderKlemmer Educational Consulting

Exploring interests is a life’s journey and not just for college applications!…

Passion and involvement are good, though not for the reasons you believe.  Think beyond your college applications; interests and activities you develop today will hopefully enrich your life long after graduation. Finding a passion usually starts with a willingness to try new things, whether through participation in an after school club or activity, or taking a job as a camp counselor. Talk to friends, family and teachers about how they found their interests. There is no singular path; just approach your quest with an open mind.  Genuine interest and commitment are what matter, not the number of activities on your list. Trust me: colleges know the difference.

Stephanie MeadeOwnerThe Collegiate Edge

Follow your heart to your extracurricular activities…

How enthusiastically you engage with your extracurricular activities is more important than which or how many you have, so look for activities that sound genuinely fun and interesting. Do you love sports and get along well with younger kids? Then maybe assisting a coach at a camp or after-school program is a good place to start. You can do something similar with almost any interest. Many students discover an activity they love by volunteering, so take the interests you already have into your community, and you may end up discovering a passion! Try volunteermatch.org and dosomething.org to get started.

Joanna ShultzDirector of College CounselingThe Ellis School in Pittsburgh, PA

Dig more deeply into an interest you already have!…

You can’t expect to reinvent yourself, but you can develop one or two of the interests you already have.  If you are interested in listening to music, for example, volunteer to work on the tech crew at your school.  Learn to work the sound board and research period music for stage productions.  Volunteer to do publicity for small music venues in your area.   Start taking music lessons.  In this way, you can dig a little deeper into an activity that you already know you like and you might actually discover a true passion.

Roby BlustDean of Admissions & Enrollment PlanningMarquette University

Make sure admissions essay sounds like YOU…

The admissions process is all about “fit” – finding a good college fit for you – and for us it is looking for students that will fit into our school.  The essay is a great place for us to get to know you better – just make sure it is authentically you.  The best way to ensure this is to write your essay – follow the directions – and then let it sit in a drawer for a few days.  If you pull it out of the drawer after a few days and reread it – and it sounds like you – then it is probably ready to go.

Ruth VedvikPrincipalHardwick Day Inc.

Balance activities with your passion and school work…

1. Put in the time to keep up the grades in 5 GREAT (hard) classes – no amount of extracurriculars can make up for poor performance 2. Follow your passions. Like music? There you go. Into sports? Got it. Nose in your kindle or books? Start a book club – be like Oprah! And, yes – less is more without the balance and academic support to back it up!

Janet RosierPresidentJanet Rosier’s Educational Resources

Colleges are not impressed with students who are a mile wide and inch deep…

One way that colleges get to know you and what you are passionate about is by what you choose to do in your free time. They are not impressed with students who join many organizations but are only superficially involved. You may not love an activity immediately, but you should try to find something where you have the chance to grow as a person and the passion may follow. If you haven’t found a good fit with your school’s clubs, try your local community organizations or those affiliated with area religious institutions. Volunteering your time and helping others may reveal your talents and strengths.

Kiersten MurphyExecutive Director and FounderMurphy College Consultants LLC

Depth over breadth…

You first need to identify things that you enjoy doing, and then find a way to further develop that passion either through school-based activities or via activities in your community. Before selecting anything though, think about how you could grow in the organization over time.  Will your involvement be a one-time thing, or could it be something that you can continue to participate in, even in college?  On-going commitment is more sincere than a one-time event.  Colleges also want to build a well-rounded class of ‘pointy’ students, so show them your unique talents, passions and commitments.  It isn’t too late to get started now.

Hamilton GreggEducational ConsultantPrivate Practice

Follow your passion…

Quality not quantity is something to remember when engaging in activities. Too often students think that they need to do everything and be great in school. If you are searching for an inspiring activity and nothing seems to match, take some time to evaluate what you have tried. What did you like and what did you not like and why? Even by not finding some activity that suits you is a learning experience as long as you take the time to determine why you did not like it. What is your passion? Take your passion and make it work for you?

John FrahlichCounseling Department ChairHudson High School

Activities dilemma presents a personal growth opportunity…

You are who you are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow. If your list of activities does not paint a picture of being well-rounded, it would be disingenuous to portray yourself otherwise. This dilemma can be a personal wake up call for you to take a risk, leave your comfort area, and engage in a meaningful activity. Ask people who know you, your family, friends, teachers, and counselor for ideas. This might be a struggle for you, but I encourage you to embrace this problem, worry less about how things look, and focus on finding meaning in this dilemma. Then share your journey with colleges!

Pam ProctorAuthor The College Hook

Well rounded is out. Having a “hook” is in…

Without a hook — one activity, interest, or passion that will leap off the pages of your college application and catch the eye of admissions officers—you won’t stand out from the pack. Your job is to dig deep within yourself to reflect on your true interests and pastimes, in and out of school. Perhaps you’re an auto aficionado who redesigns cars on the Internet and hopes to become an engineer. That’s a hook. Or maybe you’re the caregiver to your autistic sister. That’s also a hook. To find your hook, write down a list of your activities and pastimes. Ask your parents to share some anecdotes and observations about your personality and character. Now, you’ve finally found your hook!

Pamela EllisPresidentCompass Education Strategies LLC

A winning extra-curricular essay for the Common Application…

The college admissions essay is the one place where students have the most control over their application. For those students applying through the Common Application, the shorter essay asks students to elaborate on an extracurricular activity or work experience. Students can shine in this short essay with these tips. 1) Focus on the extracurricular that you are most passionate about (regardless of what you think the admissions staff wants to hear). Use language that “shows” rather than “tells.” As much as possible, choose words that give the readers a front row seat to your activity.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

When it comes to extracurricular activities, less can be more…

Extracurricular activities should be genuine learning experiences. A single activity undertaken for an extended period is often more valuable than ten you do only once. It’s even better if the activity lets you develop a variety of skills. One student worked only at a youth radio station, but she produced radio shows, learned web design, led a public service campaign, and mentored new participants. She not only got into her first choice school but was accepted to all the schools she applied to. Choose extracurriculars that inspire you, and then commit to investing the time and energy to learning all you can.

John CarpenterFounderAskJohnAboutCollege.com

Focus on what YOU enjoy; forget being well rounded…

First off, forget about impressing colleges with activities.  That’s entirely the wrong approach to take, and in most cases, admissions officers don’t value a list of activities that kids have pursued just for the sake of trying to look well-rounded.  Be square.  Be yourself.  Make a list of the two or three things that you LIKE to do, and put your energy there.  For instance, one year a student came up with the idea of forming a club based on talking about deep ideas–something she loved to do.  So she formed the philosophy club; it was an instant hit.  She did what she wanted to do, and that left a positive impact on her school.  Admissions officers notice that kind of thing.

Donnamarie HehnDirector of College GuidanceCanterbury School of Florida

One activity or fifty? …

Trying on activities is analogous to the buffet line in a restaurant.  The choices are tantalizing but sooner or later, you must pick a favorite, or two, or three.  It is great to be open to new experiences but you should also show commitment to specific activities.  Students, who successfully grab the attention of admissions directors, are passionate about their activities and have evoked change in their communities through their involvement.  Consider revitalizing a dying club or organization, starting a group to serve the needs of a specific community, or creating a link between two global communities.

Monica InzerVice President & Dean of Admission & Financial AidHamilton College

With extracurricular activities, sometimes less is more…

Yes, colleges want to enroll a well-rounded class.  But that doesn’t always mean that every individual is well-rounded in his or her interests or talents; rather, collectively, a class is made up of a mosaic, and each tile shines in different ways.  Your contributions should be sustained and meaningful.  Find things you care about and do them well. Perhaps you will lead, perhaps you will support; but make sure you contribute.  Your significant activity might even be a job where you learn a lot.  Commitment and depth is far more important (for your application and for your life!)  than joining a bunch of clubs to make your list longer. 

Susan MarrsDirector of College CounselingSeven Hills School

Being well rounded isn’t the key…

Colleges are more interested in building well-rounded classes than a collection of well-rounded students.  What that means for you is that you DON’T want to do a little of this and a little of that.  It’s far better to invest yourself in a few things that really interest you.  How to find them?  Do some soul searching about what does interest you.  If it’s film, for example, but there isn’t a film club at your school, start one–you’ll get points not only for the depth of your interest in that area but for your initiative too.

Joan CaseyPresidentEducational Advocates College Consulting Corp.

Passion is overrated—start with interest and engagement will follow…

Most students don’t yet know what their passion is. High school should be a time of self-discovery and that means students should try new activities both in and out of school until they find something that interests them. I recall one young woman who knew she wanted to go into medicine, but she didn’t connect with the activities offered through the school science club. Together, we created a list of family and friends who worked in medical research, and she sent each a resume and followed up with a phone call until she landed an internship. This was her primary after-school and summer activity and helped her get into her preferred college.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

Scooping horse poop and other unexpected, yet significant activities…

Colleges want kids who are active during high school and will contribute in significant ways to their campuses. They seek consistency, development, leadership, and initiative. Stick with one or two things and explore them. Take a risk and add a new twist to an existing activity. Sharon rode horses and noticed that the stables threw out the horse poop. So she convinced the stables to use the poop as fertilizer and to give the excess to local farmers and residents. Jackson volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and noticed the need for ESL classes for the residents so he developed a pilot program.

Julia SurtshinFounderSurtshin College Counseling

High school is not a dress rehersal for college…

You do not need to be a well-rounded student to be attractive to colleges, but rather a curious, interested and passionate one. There are several ways to discover your passion. Use your time wisely by exposing yourself to activities that seem interesting. What do you love to do in your spare time, either alone or with your friends? Maybe you can volunteer to engage in this activity with some latchkey kids, or teach this skill to younger students. Think about the things that you either love or that bother you about your school, community, or the world. The most important things to remember are: follow your own path and do something meaningful with your time.

Amy SwordsDirector of College AdvisingKingswood Oxford School

Isolating your passion is easier than you think…

A passion is just another word for expanded interest, and an interest is something that you have. So after trying different things, it is only natural that you migrate towards the things you enjoy doing and a pattern emerges. One of my students was involved with many different types of community outreach in high school where she was always helping others. She majored in anthropology and sociology in college, participated in several cross-cultural experiences abroad, coordinated programs and site visits in her college community for student volunteers and entered the Peace Corps after college. It all came together for her naturally. Don’t try to create a passion; do what you love doing.

Jennifer EvansCounseling Department ChairBroadneck High School

Think about your unique personality when looking for an activity…

A good place to start is with your high school counselor. He or she may have ideas about activities that will appeal to you. It is important to think about what types of activities you would enjoy. For example, if you enjoy helping others, you may find a service organization rewarding. Sometimes it is scary to try something new but students often end up discovering something they enjoy by trying something different. If you feel uncomfortable attending a club meeting on your own, consider bringing a friend. Remember, you won’t really know if you enjoy something until you try it.

Jolyn BrandOwner & CEOBrand College Consulting

Try different things to find your passion…

While some colleges want students who are passionate about that one great thing, some also understand that you need time to find that one great thing. Try a bunch of different activities. Explore! If you find one passion—great! If not, write your college essay about the journey, about what each of those activities and opportunities taught you.

Susan KarasekGuidance CounselorEstrella 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.

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Extracurriculars

What are the “right” extracurriculars? There are none. Colleges want to see passion in a few hobbies/topics/sports/interests. It really does not matter what the passion is…it could be coin collecting, guitar collecting, video games, or film. What matters is that the college you are looking at has activities that fit YOU. Get involved in the things you really care about and do worry about if it is the “right activity”.

Erin AveryCertified Educational PlannerAvery 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.”

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton 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.

Nicholas Umphrey

Light resumes?

Contrary to popular belief, colleges are not necessarily looking for students who are involved in everything. In the more recent past, schools are more interested in students who excel in academics and one other area (athletics, music, art, etc). If a student is at the top of their class and an all-state football player, this looks better that the student who is spread thin with extracurriculars. Keep in mind colleges like a diversity of students with a variety of interests and skills. Thus, choose activities you like, not activities you think will look good.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Extracurriculars

There is no such thing as the “right” extracurriculars. Colleges are looking to enroll students who will create a well rounded class. That does not mean they are looking for all well rounded students. Ideally admissions officers are hoping to find folks with a “spike”. They are seeking out the individuals who have a genuine passion, will make a contribution to the campus environment, you know: fit. They aren’t as interested in the person who has dabbled in everything, but never demonstrated interest in anything. Maybe you weren’t Student Body President, but you were on Class Council all four years. Maybe they really need a tuba player this year, but have enough violins. Remember, they are evaluating you on your whole application, not just one piece.

Helen Cella

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

Yes there are lots of other ways to look dedicated.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Appear or Are?

What’s more important? Appearing to be a dedicated student or actually being a dedicated student? If you are genuinely someone who is hardworking, dedicated and passionate about academics — you are probably also someone who can bring those characteristics to activities which really interest you. Try to look beyond what others are doing and look at what really interests you. Any activity (inside or outside of school) that you love and are passionate about — can be the “right” extracurricular activity. Remember — it’s not whether you are president of Spanish club or co-capt of the dance team that’s important — it’s whether or not you can demonstrate your commitment, dedication, passion, and enthusiasm for a particular venture that really counts.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Appear or Are?

What’s more important Appearing to be a dedicated student or actually being a dedicated student? If you are genuinely someone who is hardworking, dedicated and passionate about academics — you are probably also someone who can bring those characteristics to activities which really interest you. Try to look beyond what others are doing and look at what really interests you. Any activity (inside or outside of school) that you love and are passionate about — can be the “right” extracurricular activity. Remember — it’s not whether you are president of Spanish club or co-capt of the dance team that’s important — it’s whether or not you can demonstrate your commitment, dedication, passion, and enthusiasm for a particular venture that really counts.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Appear or Are?

What’s more important Appearing to be a dedicated student or actually being a dedicated student? If you are genuinely someone who is hardworking, dedicated and passionate about academics — you are probably also someone who can bring those characteristics to activities which really interest you. Try to look beyond what others are doing and look at what really interests you. Any activity (inside or outside of school) that you love and are passionate about — can be the “right” extracurricular activity. Remember — it’s not whether you are president of Spanish club or co-capt of the dance team that’s important — it’s whether or not you can demonstrate your commitment, dedication, passion, and enthusiasm for a particular venture that really counts.

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