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Is doing extracurricular activities like math club or science bowl valuable for college application?s

I'm in a lot of extracurriculars right now, but they take up a lot of my time. I wonder if they're worth it.

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Ayanna’s Answer

Hi Eli--you have a great question. Extra-curricular activities are worth it, IF you are strategic about what you are participating in. It's not the quantity of activities but quality. Most students are in tons of random after school activities, but college admissions are looking for a theme, focus, passion, and leadership.

For example, if you love art and technology do you consistently show that throughout your 4 years of high school? Is your participation progressing showing that you are leading and teaching it to others in the community? Perhaps you are passionate about environmental science and social justice--and for freshmen-sophomore, you are active on your campus. Don't worry if you want to scale back and focus on building a business or non-profit organization dealing with these same issues.

Your activities should be focused on your passions and show a steady growth of leadership and the willingness to share knowledge with others. I hope this makes sense. Definitely give thought to how you spend your time. Don't be afraid to scale back if it's going to allow you to dig deeper into a subject you love.

All the best!

Great response! Another really helpful way to present your information is to list the number of hours that you were engaged in the activit(ies). For example, if you spent 4 hours per week, 9 months out of the year, this can be meaningful in giving context. It gives something to compare it to, in relation to a week-long internship or year-round volunteer experience. It can really show the depth of your commitment. Jennifer Haden

Totally agree! When I worked in the admissions office at my college we would look to see if the student was active in their school community. This shows that the student will work to become part of the community. Athena Bogdanos

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Robin F.’s Answer

I completely agree with all the things in the first answer. I I would add that extracurriculars don't look very impressive if you are just another cog in the wheel participating in a common activity. If you just attend meetings or sit in the back or simply show up at a project that other people have organized, it doesn't help admission officers understand your unique contributions and gifts. So if you're talking about something like quiz bowl or math team, where there are a lot of other students involved, you need to make sure that you're contributing something that only you can do.

For example, ask yourself, how would this team be different if I weren't on it? Or what projects did we do because I was here to help? It doesn't have to be just you by yourself organizing something. You can grab a couple of friends and put together a project or activity for your whole team. But it has to be something where you can specifically point to the impact you made. Otherwise, you're not really distinguishing yourself from the crowd and helping admissions officers understand what you could contribute to their university.

A lot of times the most interesting and impactful extracurriculars are situations where students found themselves an individual or more unusual opportunity like volunteering at an interesting organization, assisting a local college professor, or interning at a parent's or friend's place of business, which they could then parlay into some new and interesting skills and work their way up.

I had a student who started volunteering at a local shop that fixed donated bicycles to give to underprivileged kids. He not only learned how to fix bicycles, but over the course of three years of working there, he took over their social media and website and even did some fundraising for them. Ultimately, he had a great essay to write for his application to engineering school because he could highlight his mechanical ability with the bicycles, but he also showed a lot of initiative in becoming an important part of the organization.

Robin F. recommends the following next steps:

Think about what you're passionate about and good at and try to find some places in your community or school where you could put that into practice helping others with a unique or personal skill that you have.

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Alexandra’s Answer

From my experience in applying to college and also acting as a tutor to both high school and college students I have found that having extracurricular activities listed on your college application. However, make sure to do the following:

- for every activity, list how long you have been doing it for and for how many hours approximately; for example: "Drama Club, 3 years, 5 hours per week, participated in 5 different performances"; make sure you also list any awards and achievements such in the activity;
- Focus on the activities that you are truly passionate about rather than listing many activities where you were involved but did not participate for a long time or just did not enjoy as much;

Good luck!

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Tracy’s Answer

Yes, this experience is very important when applying for college. Be sure to include this on your application and give a little insight on your involvement in the organizations, too. If you hold a position that's something you should add on, as well. Also, don't forget to add these to your resume, too, if you're applying for jobs. They show that you're responsible and active in your community.

Tracy makes a good point to remember - not only are extracurriculars important for college applications, but also for your resume. For example, if you spent part of the year doing community service a lot of those activities involve interacting with the public, customer service and may involve other skills you may not think are relevant, but it is all relevant. After my daughter quit playing volleyball in high school, she coached for a season. She was reluctant to put that on her resume, but it showed leadership skills and dedication when she had to run practices when a coach was not present or for weekend tournaments. It was actually the experience that one of her summer job employers asked her about first. Bronwyn Acosta

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Veronica’s Answer

Hi Eli!

Yes, extracurricular activities are VERY important when it comes to college admissions. College application reviewers are encouraged to look into the student's extracurriculars. The more the merrier.

It is something that does stand out in your application as representatives are reviewing your application. These representatives are able to view the kind of person you are and how you are able to manage your time. It can definitely tell these reviewers your interests and future goals.

I hope this helps.

Also, when you are doing your application, make sure you add all your extracurricular activities and community service. A lot of students forget to include these.

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Gina’s Answer

I feel extracurriculars are very important-- not only do they look for them on college entrance, it helps you manage your time. Feel it's excellent preparation for college and for life. Plus, if they are an interest of yours, why not? Great way to interact and be a part of some pretty cool clubs.