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!
Robin F.’s Answer
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:
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.
- 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;