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!

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.

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.

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.

Randi Heathman
Independent Educational Consultant The 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!

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.

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.

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.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar 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 Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener 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!