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What are some extra curricular activites that look impressive on a college application?

I'm a sophomore in high school and have been focusing on building up my extra curricular or activities so I have a good list when I start applying for college and I want it to look impressive so they can see that I'm all around good student and not just academically. college-applications academic-advising extracurriculars community-service

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Jarvarus’s Answer

Colleges normally look for well-rounded students. I think that it is most important to become involved in the things you are interested in or are passionate about. It would probably be good for you to remember that the schools may not look at the number of activities you were involved in. Schools sometimes admit students who are only involved in one or two extra-curricular activities. They want to see that you have grown with organizations and taken leadership roles. Be careful not to become over-involved and lose sight of grades and SATs.

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Jared’s, Team Answer

Things that (1) are hard to achieve, (2) show something about who you are as a person, and (3) you enjoy.

For example:

  • Found a successful and profitable company with at least $100,000 in annual sales

  • Found a successful nonprofit

  • Taking a leadership role in an existing organization and doubling its output / results in a short period of time

  • Creating a club that achieves something hard (wins a difficult competition, builds a lot of something, does a lot of good for a lot of people, confronts something uncomfortable)

  • Creating something that will get you into multiple news stories

  • Founding and running a campaign to raise a huge sum of money for a nonprofit organization that you support

  • Getting a provisional or issued patent with the USPTO for an invention you have created

  • Publish a book that sells a large number of copies (the internet makes publishing easier than in the past, but may challenge your marketing skills to get sales)

  • A significant physical accomplishment (ideally one that puts you on track for the Olympics someday -- colleges love to have olympic athletes)

  • Make a short film about something important to you that gets media coverage or a lot of views (and ideally one that wins awards as well)

  • Publish a paper in a peer-reviewed academic journal (this one is HAAAAAARD)

  • Become a licensed pilot

  • Become fluent (REALLY fluent) in 5 languages

  • Launch something into space

  • Become SCUBA certified

  • Create a work of art that is featured in a real museum

  • Win academic merit scholarships

  • Get an internship or part-time job with a local business or organization and achieve something hard and valuable for your employer

  • Run an event that brings together a lot of people (for example "5,000 people attended the street fair I created")

  • Something else! (what can you do that is hard, tells us something about who you are, and you enjoy?)

Here's the important thing you must not forget:

No matter what it is that you achieve, you must find a good way to explain it to others if your goal is to use it for college applications. It's much more impressive on a college application to be able to say "I founded and led MeetingHouse, a social enterprise that raised $5M and brought together 2,500 youth and mentors over to collectively build 20 houses for political refugees over a 2 year period" (Option A) than it is to say "I worked on a project that would help youth and adults build houses." (Option B) Specificity is important! Option A gives the reader a big "wow" feeling and sounds really hard to achieve. Option B really lacks that wow factor and makes it sound like anyone can do it (what does it even mean to "Work on" something? Like you wrote down some ideas? Or did you really DO it?). (ProTip: would also be a really good place to get advice on how to turn a specific accomplishment into a line on a resume)

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Andy’s Answer

Another idea: show consistency and passion by making a long-term commitment to your extra-curricular activities. Even if just one or two activities, showing a long term passion (over several years) can help you express yourself in your college application.