How Extracurricular Activities Help When Applying for College

Extracurricular Activities


From sports and clubs to performing arts and scouts, extracurricular activities are a fun way to break away from class work and do something different. As such, it may seem unusual for colleges and universities to ask about extracurricular activities during the application process. After all, college is about school and studying, right?

Certainly, the focus of college is on books, classes and preparation for a career. However, schools are also trying to bring together students who can add to the richness of the college community. To help with this, admissions officials want to learn about the whole student. Grades and test scores matter, but so do the characteristics that make you a good student. Some of the traits that extracurricular activities help students demonstrate include:

  • Time management. Regardless of a student’s future path, time management skills will be necessary. It can be hard to be both a student and an active member of a club or group. Being able to perform well academically and take part in outside activities shows you can make good use of your free time. Outside activities demonstrate that the student will be able to balance the demands that college will place on his or her time.
  • Social skills. When participating in an activity, students interact with groups of people who may not be part of their typical social group. Learning to be comfortable in such a setting is a trait that will really pay off in the future. Additionally, the opportunity to show respect for others and work in groups will give students good practice for their careers.
  • Initiative. Initiative is a very individual trait. Students grow accustomed to having their schedules controlled by their teachers, but extracurricular activities give them a chance to choose their own path. This allows a student to choose something they care about, and helps them learn how to accomplish their goals.
  • Physical and Emotional Health. Even if the activity is not athletics, students who are involved in activities tend to be healthier and happier. Individual, sedentary pastimes have their place, but can be very isolating for a young student. More than that, interacting with others and doing something fun offers stress relief. Stress management is an important skill as college students venture out on their own for the first time.

There is no correct answer to how many activities a student should get involved with, nor is there a right or wrong activity to pursue. What matters most is if the student is truly interested and actively involved in the activity. Your extracurricular activities can back up what you say in your application, especially if they’re a long-running commitment. What skills or character traits have you developed as a result of your extracurricular activities?