4 answers

With a busy after school schedule what are some things that stand out in college applications that are not school affiliated?

Asked Coventry, Rhode Island

It's a well known fact that colleges look for many extracurricular activities while viewing an individual's application. At my school I am involved with the drama club and due to the intense schedule of productions, whenever I have free time in the year it is at an awkward time (only December, May, and June) and I cannot easily join clubs I had no affiliation with before. Seeing as I want to stand out on applications but cannot necessarily participate in clubs I want to, what sort of other activities also stick out to colleges? #college #extracurriculars #admissions #application #clubs

4 answers

Geraldine’s Answer

Updated Berkeley, California

Hi Lissy! It's awesome that you've been so committed to drama club. Instead of trying to add things to your resume, you might want to write in your application essay about what you've learned from your experiences working on drama productions. How has it helped you learn about commitment and time management? Has it helped you figure out what you want to do in college and in the future? How did you balance schoolwork and after-school activities? Was there one production you especially cared about?

You might also try looking for a short-tern internship during the month of June. Is there a small local production company or theatre you could contact about an internship? Even if they don't have one listed, they might be open to some volunteer help.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

Courtney’s Answer

Updated Columbia, South Carolina
It's not the activity itself that matters so much as your level of participation and enthusiasm for the activity. If possible, demonstrate that you've taken a leadership role or served as a mentor to others in the organization. Show that you've dedicated time and are passionate about the activity and have worked to improve the group experience for everyone involved. Avoid joining clubs just to list them on the resume and focus your time on a few where you can really make an impact!

Lynette’s Answer

Updated Arlington, Virginia

As Geraldine and Courtney said, it is quality over quantity. Colleges will be more impressed with passion, dedication, and how you've grown from your experiences. It isn't so much the fact that you have activities, nor is it how many, or what kind. Instead, they look at your activities in order to get a sense for who you are, and what your personality is like, beyond your test scores and GPA. Schools want to select students who have not only the scores, but also the personality and character that will make them a good fit for that school's environment, and most likely to succeed in their programs. Some schools are even looking for specific qualities that they value, such as leadership, curiosity, empathy, and resourcefulness.


So, rather than adding more activities, I suggest you focus on some other things you can do to boost your chances at the school of your choice. These articles offer some great ideas:

  1. Five things you can do: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2014/09/22/5-things-college-applicants-can-do-to-stand-out-in-a-good-way
  2. What colleges are looking for: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/applying-101/character-counts-what-are-colleges-looking-for#
  3. This article is LONG, but offers some great insights. Worth the read! https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/education/edlife/what-college-admissions-wants.html


Hope that helps. Good luck!

Lynette recommends the following next steps:

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/education/edlife/what-college-admissions-wants.html
  • https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/applying-101/character-counts-what-are-colleges-looking-for#
  • https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2014/09/22/5-things-college-applicants-can-do-to-stand-out-in-a-good-way

Judith’s Answer

Updated New York, New York

Keep everything in mind as you are applying and in your applications.

Look for where you have learned new things, conquers obstacles, topic related activities and where you have shown some leadership.

These things should all present you in a positive light. Go for it! You are on the right path to getting a balanced experience!