An extracurricular activity can be almost anything that isn’t required for high school credit or paid employment that you do while you’re in high school.
If you’re looking to enjoy more opportunities after high school, it’s important to think beyond just grades. These activities can play a big part because they can help you develop your talents, interests, passions, and skills like time management. It may have a significant impact on Admissions, who must decide whether to extend you an admissions offer.
The best extracurricular activities will be pursuits that already match your interests and passions.
Rather than joining many different groups or the most prestigious clubs, focus on the ones that spark your talents.
After-school activities offer a fun way to explore interests and develop friendships.
This may be one reason why more than 80% of adolescents ages 12–17 take part in at least one extracurricular activity.
The following list of extracurriculars for college covers the main categories of options.
School-sponsored extracurriculars are organized programs based on an activity, goal, or purpose. While they’re not part of the regular curriculum, they can certainly be educational.
Most high schools offer an array of programs, including:
Intramural and varsity Sports teams
School newspaper or yearbook club
Special-interests clubs, such as drama club
Competitive academics, such as Math league
Think of school-sponsored activities as a way to complement your regular classroom studies. If you like a specific subject or aspect of a class, chances are your school offers a related program.
For example, joining the school newspaper if you enjoy writing or math club if you have a knack for algebra.
Admissions officers like to see school-sponsored activities on applications because it shows that you’re interested in a field of study beyond the classroom.
Community groups and organizations may have programs available for high school students looking to engage in their community in a meaningful way. Some options that could be available in your community include:
Local clubs and sports teams
Political activist groups
Community arts or music groups
Getting involved with community issues, political discussions, or leadership opportunities can show admissions committees that you’re passionate about making a difference. It also shows them your values and if they’re aligned with the college’s values.
Participating in these organizations long-term can demonstrate your commitment level and work ethic, which is an important skill to have.
Volunteering for a local group or non-profit is a great way to showcase what you are passionate about as well.
For example, if you’re interested in veterinary technician programs, volunteering at an animal shelter will demonstrate your passion for helping animals and increase your chances of being accepted to a veterinary technician program.
You can also participate in activities at home that help develop your skills outside the classroom. Some of these include:
Taking specialized online courses, such as coding
Engaging in related hobbies, such as painting or buildingLearning new skills, such as computer software programs
Hosting an online podcast
Starting a small business
Your choice of independent extracurricular activities shows your creativity, passion, and commitment to learning.
Colleges like to see your willingness to learn.
After all, learning is what college is all about. Showing admissions committees that you’re curious and are willing to work hard for what you want is a great way to stand out from other applicants.
Work experience—whether it’s full-time, part-time, or freelance—is another extracurricular worth adding to a college application.
Even if the job is not related to your area of study, it can really impress college admissions committees. Roughly one in three high school–age teens will have a job at some point in a year.
Balancing work with high school studies shows that you have good time management skills and are excited about developing job skills early on. A job commitment also helps you learn the importance of teamwork, reliability, and work ethic.
If you work up to a managerial position at your summer job or internship, this shows admissions committees that you are capable of sustained commitment and excellence.
When choosing extracurriculars, keep these factors in mind:
Career paths you’re considering
Your intended college major or minor
Any passions or hobbies you already enjoy
Still can’t find anything? You can always start your own club, group, or business.
High school is a time to try new things, learn new skills, and develop new passions. Are you making the most of your opportunities? Our assistance is available as a supplement to anyone who is looking to expand their future prospects.