Updated: Sep 10
You will hear teachers, guidance counselors and college advisors tell you that you need "extracurriculars" when applying for college. But what are they and when do you need to start them and how are they "evaluated"?
A typical (I say that because not every one of them fit this) high school guidance counselor will tell you that extracurriculars are clubs and sports at your school.
Well, that answer can put you in a box. What if you are an elite athlete that is on a club team that travels across the state or nation but you don't play for your high school team (or your high school doesn't have that sport)? Does that count as an extracurricular? YES!
The problem is that there are so many different extracurriculars that are outside of a school that you don't realize you could be a part of to help add to your application. These activities are added to what's called your resume, just like your parents' job resume you have a student resume.
So what type of activities could be considered extracurriculars outside of school?
When I was in high school, I was part of a leadership team for 3 years at my church, sang in the band in my high school youth group, volunteered as a Sunday school teacher since the 6th grade, played recreational soccer (AYSO), and a few things in school. By the time I graduated, I had about 100 hours of volunteer service hours when none were required from my school district.
If you're in a school that doesn't have a club, activity or sport that interests you, don't worry! There are other options.
After school jobs count as well because, let's face it, some of you have to have a job to either pay for college or to help support your families.
The best ones, in my opinion, are volunteering with different organizations or your city. These experiences will help you learn more about yourself as well as what you want to do with your life. They will also help you build a network for the future.
Is it too late?
It's never too late to join a club or to start volunteering. However, if you join 15 clubs your senior year, the admissions counselors will know you are trying to add to your resume.
Where to start?
Look for activities that interest you:
Change in your town/ city,
Youth boards with your city/ town,
Hospitals (yes, you can volunteer in an ER as a minor! or the gift shop, administration, etc at certain hospitals),
Part time jobs (which could lead to paying for college - Starbucks, In-n-Out, and more),
and so many more options.
Now you have no excuses to not have a few extracurriculars on your applications! Get started now! It's never too soon to have activities on your list. Of course, the longer you are involved in something, the better. But at least you are trying to add to your list.