In my small classroom of high school juniors, one of the things we’re most confused about is extracurriculars. We’ve had multiple college talks, but very few of them ever mention extracurricular activities as something that’s important on a college application. As a result, a lot of us are left wondering.A few of us take the initiative and get involved in activities and organizations outside of school, but a lot of us don’t because were unsure of its importance and would prefer to focus our energy on something we know for sure will help us.

But are they important or not? Should I put aside time to work on something other than my academics? The answer is yes.

Seeing extracurricular activities on your college applications will give colleges information about you that your grades can’t. Being involved in one thing for multiple years means you are able to make a long term commitment. Sports show that you’re able to work well under pressure and in teams.

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Colleges like to know that the students they choose to represent them are students who are capable of multiple things. Depending on the university and the program to which you apply, chances are they’d prefer to accept a student with a well-rounded application, a sort of jack of all trades In any case, having a lot of extracurriculars is unlikely to hurt your chances.

A student who participates in community activities is likely a student that cares about the welfare of others. Admissions offices love to see this quality in a student. Volunteering at a homeless shelter or nursing home are good options for students who are looking to better their own communities.

Student Council or something similar is a great extracurricular to put on your college applications. Activities like this teach students a variety of skills that colleges love to see, such as leadership skills, ability to work in teams, and ability to solve problems efficiently.

Getting started in an extracurricular isn’t hard. A simple Google search can lead you to loads of volunteering opportunities of different sorts. You could also follow a different avenue: speak to a guidance counselor, get advice from already graduated students, or start your own club!

Regardless of which you choose to do, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing. It’s pointless to add something to your application, something that’s supposed to reflect the kind of person you are, when you weren’t excited to dedicate your time to it.