What Do Colleges Look For In Extracurricular Activities?

When reviewing college applications, admissions officers look at more than just the courses you took and the grades you received in those courses. They dive deeper to see who you are as a person and whether you would be a good addition to their school. One way to get a glimpse of who you are is by looking at the activities in which you were involved during your high school career. This is not something typically shown on the high school transcript – although classes focused on art, orchestra or band may provide some insight. Rather, the activities we are referring to are extracurricular activities, which relate to information that you will share during the college application process. I am asked a lot about what types of extracurricular activities colleges are looking for in a prospective student. The answer is not cut and dry. It is not simply that one type of activity is better than another. For example, a competitive math club is not necessarily better than playing football. And, being involved in 10 activities doesn’t make you a better candidate than someone who is only involved in one. What really matters is the depth of the activities rather than the breadth – and how involved you really are.

Colleges Look at Depth Rather than Breadth When It Comes to Extracurricular Activities

I visit colleges quite often – I have visited over 400 schools. When I visit them, I try to sit down and talk with the admissions officers. When it comes to extracurricular activities, they always say they are looking for depth, not breadth. It’s not about having 50 different activities that you are involved with once or twice. They would rather see that you are doing activities you enjoy and that you are doing more of them. So, it could be that you are a gymnast and your whole extracurricular life is about gymnastics. Whether it is competing, training or volunteering, it is all about gymnastics. So, that is incredible depth. Looking at activities in this light gives a college counselor a better glimpse of who you really are as a person.

When It Comes to Activities, Do Something that You Enjoy

When you participate in activities that you enjoy, you will more likely do more of those activities. This involvement shows who you are outside of the classroom, which is what the college admissions counselors are looking for. They are not looking to see necessarily how involved you are, but rather where your interests lie.

Extracurricular Activities for College Application Key Takeaway:

It is important to be who you are. When it comes to extracurricular activities and college applications, it is not about checking the box; it is about exploration, learning and growing. Remember, college admissions officers are looking to see who you are, not that you have participated in a plethora of activities.

Looking for help with the college application and financial aid process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.