How Extra-curricular Activities Affect College Admissions Decisions

How do extra-curricular activities affect a student’s chance of college admission? Consider the following scenario:

Two students from the same high school with the same SAT scores and an identical grade point average apply to the same college. Student A participates in eight extra-curricular sports, clubs and activities. She tries to join as many as she can, but often has to miss the meetings because her schedule is full of conflicts. Student B participates in two extra-curricular activities. She has been an active member for all four years of her high school career and has risen into a leadership role in both organizations.

Which sImage result for Services Architecttudent is the college more likely to admit?

Nothing is ever certain in the world of college admissions, but Student B will usually be the winner. To understand why, you have to start thinking like a college admissions officer.

Student A will bring a casual interest in many areas. She will probably be an active member of the campus community, but we don’t know exactly what her contribution will be.

Student B will bring a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for the two activities she participates in. She will likely continue to participate in those activities in college and assume leadership roles in those areas on campus.

College admissions officers consider both students valuable, but they generally prefer Student B. Her commitment to specific activities makes her an easy choice for admissions officers looking to fill a void on campus. Even if there is no void to fill, she is an attractive applicant because she will bring passion to the freshman class.

Students sometimes get this wrong because they misunderstand the task college admissions officers are challenged to fulfill. An admissions department’s job is to assemble a well-rounded class, not a class full of well-rounded individuals. A class full of passionate, focused students will make for a more interesting and culturally-rich community on campus.

Our whole society is built on the premise that we are better off working collectively than fending for ourselves. A community of specialists – farmers, doctors, architects and electricians – can provide a higher quality of life for its members than can a community in which everyone performs all of those tasks for themselves.

The same is true of a college campus. A college that admits a brilliant harpsichord player, a star quarterback and a physics club president is going to offer students a richer educational experience than a school that admits three students who show a cursory interest in all three of those areas.

So when you’re selecting extra-curricular activities, the best thing you can do to optimize your chance of college admission is be yourself. Join only those student organizations that genuinely interest you. Participate in them for all four years of your high school career. Show that you are committed. Take on leadership roles whenever possible.

If you spent your high school career trying to join every club you could, just like Student A, there’s no reason to worry. We work with Student A all the time at The College A Team. Your record of participation can actually be a huge advantage if you properly strategize what you are going to write your college admission essay about. Plus, your grades, test scores and the rigor of your high school courses are much more important than what club meetings you go to every Tuesday.

Just remember that college admissions officers are going to see you as more than just a number when they review your application. They’re going to view the extra-curricular activities you participated in as tools for gaining insight into your personality, passions and life experience. They’re not going to view them as points you put up on the scoreboard.

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