It’s hard enough to get good grades and high scores on SATs, but your dream college might also have a very keen interest in extra-curricular activities as well. As you prepare your application letters, consider what universities are looking for.
Quality is better than quantity.
Anyone can join a club or volunteer for a day or two. Stuffing your application with a hundred extra-curricular activities simply looks like you lack focus in your non-school activities, or worse yet, you’ve just tried to pad your application. The college admissions officer is no fool and has seen it before.
What impresses colleges is commitment to something; sticking with a team, club, or cause for a year or more shows that you have the kind of focus and perseverance needed to succeed in a high-quality academic program.
Leadership roles still have a lot of pull in college admissions. Not everyone can be class president, but any experience with team leadership or mentoring skills should be highlighted.
Tie extra curricular activities to your chosen college program.
Ideally will be at least some correlation between your extra-curricular activities and the program you’re applying to. Applying to a leading engineering school with an application full of theatre and music credits is not a winning endorsement. Similarly, applying to theater school with nothing but tech extra-curricular activities will seem equally strange.
This isn’t to say that you can’t do some things just for fun – after all, balance in life is important – but if you don’t have something connected to your program of choice, the admissions department might question how committed you’ll be to the program.
Give yourself credit! An amazing number of students leave extra-curricular activities off their applications because their personal interests are so much a part of them that it doesn’t occur to them that those activities might impress a school. All your jobs, all your clubs, all your sports, everything you’ve volunteered for… make sure the college knows!