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Extracurriculars for high school students

Discover your passions and get expert tips on how to build a strong profile for college admissions.

What are Extracurricular Activities?

By definition, an extracurricular activity (EC) is any endeavor you pursue outside of the classroom. It can be athletic, academic, artistic, you name it.

Some activities are team-oriented, like most sports, while other activities like painting are driven by the individual. Central organizations, such as 4H, may lead activities, while others do not require outside assistance, such as writing a book.

You have a lot of freedom to choose what activities you participate in, so be sure to choose ones that you're interested in and that excite you.

Do Admissions Officers View All Activities The Same?

Higher tiered activities show admissions officers whether you demonstrated leadership, good judgement, and initiative given the available resources. Additionally, students are evaluated on whether they earned regional, state-level, national, or even international recognition for their extracurricular involvement.

Learn more about how admissions officers view extracurriculars.

Here's what admissions officers consider:

The Activity's Tier

We've developed a tier system for ranking extracurricular activities the way admissions officers do. The highest tier is reserved for major national and international accomplishments, such as competing at the Olympics or starring in a Hollywood blockbuster. In general, the greater your impact, the more impressive the accomplishment.

Demonstrated Leadership

Your activities help show admissions officers your leadership abilities, and each tier demonstrates a higher level of commitment and initiative. They also want to know if you made use of the resources available to you. If there were no national opportunities available in your hometown, how did you make it a better place with the tools you had?

Level of Recognition

Additionally, students are evaluated on whether they earned regional, state-level, national, or even international recognition for their extracurricular involvement. If you want to set yourself apart in your extracurricular endeavors, look for ways to expand the mark you make on your community.

The Benefits of
Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are a major component of a well-rounded high school experience. ECs give you the chance to do what you love, not just what your teachers tell you to do for homework. They allow you to discover an interest and cultivate it in depth.

ECs give students the chance to learn outside the classroom. There are so many skills – conflict resolution, public speaking, programming, thinking on your feet – that cannot be or are not taught during the school day. ECs build strengths that students carry with them into their careers and throughout their lives.


How to choose
the right activities

Because extracurriculars have so much to offer, it’s vital to make strategic decisions about how you want to spend your time outside of class.

Your extracurricular involvement should be an extension not only of who you are but also of who you wish to become over the course of four years.

choosing activities

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