Participating in the Right Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities and third-party recognition are the most important elements of your child’s admissions profile. Your child’s extracurricular activities are perfect for showcasing their primary interests, innovativeness, and concern for their community.

In this article, we consider how your child’s extracurricular activities will affect their application and explain how your child can use them to make their admissions profile more competitive.

Authenticity, Passion, and Excellence

If you’ve been told that your child should be well-rounded in their pursuit of extracurricular activities, you need to forget that notion—it’s wrong. Instead, your child needs to be highly focused. The extracurriculars your child pursues should enhance their profile and help develop their theme and their narrative.

For example, our founder centered his admissions profile on his nonprofit organization, Children’s Books on Tape. Consequently, he took a childhood psychology and learning course and volunteered as a teacher in a summer reading program for fourth graders.

Your child should consider the theme of their application and pursue related opportunities. They might get involved in a service organization, participate in a summer program, or pursue an internship. The activities they choose must help them craft a cohesive theme and a strong narrative. While there is no perfect combination of extracurriculars that will guarantee admission, your child will benefit from following these three basic rules: be authentic, pursue what you love, and be innovative.

Admissions officers will see through any attempts your child may make to pad their profile with extracurriculars. They will be able to tell the difference between your child’s actual interests and the activities they pursued only to improve their admissions profile. Therefore, your child should be authentic and pursue what truly interests them.

Your child’s extracurricular activities reflect their interests, values, and personality. The clubs, sports, and musical ensembles your child participates in, the jobs they hold, and the organizations they volunteer at all show who they are as a person.

Using Extracurriculars to Stand Out

Top colleges view extracurriculars as indicators of an applicant’s potential value to the school. Being passionate about a specific activity and accomplishing something in that area of interest will show that your child is already achieving success—and there is no better predictor of future success than past success.

So, the key is for your child to take an activity or issue they are passionate about and invest time in it, channeling passion into accomplishment and creative innovation. What your child accomplishes through extracurricular activities will help distinguish them from the myriad of other applicants.

Think of it this way: the courses your child takes, the grades they earn, and the test scores they achieve will likely be similar to those of other applicants. In contrast, the way your child applies what they learn into the real world by means of extracurricular activities will be unique.

Top colleges understand that the major driver of economic development in the coming decades will be creativity and innovation. As technology improves, global competitiveness will rely more on ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. That kind of thinking is what colleges are looking for in applicants, and those who demonstrate innovation through their extracurriculars show admissions officers that they will add value to the school and to society.

For these reasons, your child should make sure that their extracurricular pursuits aren’t merely activities to participate in and enjoy. A basic rule of thumb is that if anyone can show up and get credit for an activity, your child should avoid it— such activities will not make their admissions profile unique. Instead, your child should choose activities they can enjoy, and that will result in tangible accomplishments or allow them to demonstrate leadership and creativity.

If your child works hard and proves that they truly have passion for a specific activity, they will be able to craft a unique, competitive admissions profile. Book an initial consultation with Ivy League Prep to find out how we help our clients gain admission to the most prestigious schools.