Don’t Have Any Extracurricular Activities? Read This
Extracurricular activities play an important role in college admissions. Experts say that being dedicated to an activity outside of the classroom can be a benefit in admissions, especially at top universities.
“Distinguishing yourself in one focused type of extracurricular activity can be a positive in the admissions process, especially for highly selective institutions, where having top grades and test scores is not enough,” Katie Kelley, admissions counselor at IvyWise admissions consultancy and a former senior director of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells US News. “Students need to have that quality or hook that will appeal to admission officers and allow them to visualize how the student might come and enrich their campus community.”
But what if you don’t have any extracurricular activities to show? Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant, offered a few tips on how applicants can write about extracurricular activities in their application, even if those activities were started at the last minute.
EXTRACURRICULARS ARE OPEN-ENDED
While most think of extracurricular activities for admissions as volunteering or leadership positions, Gruen says that extracurriculars don’t need to be clear-cut.
“Do you sing in a choir on Tuesday nights? Participate in a weekly fiction writing circle with friends? Are you an avid gamer? Do you do yoga, meditation, or are you training for a half-marathon? Do you have a podcast, moderate a discussion group on Clubhouse, or are you learning website design? Do you run an Etsy shop? Do you have a standing weekly ‘date’ with a grandparent who is otherwise alone most of the time?” Gruen writes. “These are all completely valid, growth-oriented ways to invest time outside of work or school. Each has the potential to reveal your passions, interests, and goals. Some may have helped you develop leadership skills. With others, your gains may be physical, creative, intellectual, social, professional, or emotional-psychological. They will all broaden you as a more fully evolved individual to the admissions committee.”
SHORT-TERM VS. LONG-TERM ACTIVITIES
If you’re considering leaving an extracurricular out of your application because you just started the activity, Gruen says, include it.
“We agree that showing long-term extracurricular activities would have been preferable, but showing recent and short-term involvements are better than none,” Gruen writes. “And they will certainly be better than having your main extracurricular activity consist of kicking yourself over and over again for your lack of planning.”
LOOK BEYOND ADMISSIONS
Aside from bolstering your college application, extracurricular activities help keep you balanced outside of school. In other words, Gruen says, at the end of the day—hobbies are good for you.
“Forget the application process completely– finding something to do that is unrelated to work, school or other obligations will enrich your life,” Gruen writes. “The right activities will energize you physically and creatively, and make you a happier person.”
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