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Importance of extracurricular activities in college admissions?

I've been hearing a lot about how important extracurricular activities are for getting into college. Can anyone shed some light on how much they actually matter? And what types of activities are colleges looking for? I'm feeling a little stressed about it.

6 months ago

Extracurricular activities play a significant role in college admissions, as they help showcase your interests, passions, and commitment outside of academics. They demonstrate your ability to balance and manage your time, engage with your community, and develop important skills like leadership, teamwork, and public speaking.

In general, colleges prefer applicants who have a strong "spike," essentially a highly-developed specialty or exceptional achievement in a specific field. That being said, having a well-balanced mix of extracurriculars also has its merits. Aim for a combination of activities that demonstrate leadership, commitment, and personal growth.

Colleges typically evaluate extracurricular activities using the Four Tiers of Extracurriculars:

1. Tier 1: Rare, exceptional achievements or leadership at the national or international level (e.g., winning a national award or being ranked in the top-tier for a national competition).

2. Tier 2: High level of achievement and leadership, but more common than Tier 1 (e.g., president of your student body or a prominent position in a state or regional competition).

3. Tier 3: Leadership roles in clubs, National Honor Society, or team captain positions that may not have a broader impact beyond the school or local community.

4. Tier 4: Most commonly seen activities, such as membership in clubs or sports teams without leadership roles, or participating in general volunteer work.

While it's great to aim for Tier 1 and Tier 2 activities, it's important to be genuinely passionate about your extracurriculars and not simply participate for the sake of college admissions. Colleges want to see your personal development and commitment to specific activities.

Quality is more important than quantity, so focus on a few activities that you really enjoy and dedicate time to develop your skills in those areas. It's also worth noting that many successful applicants to top colleges have around 8-10 extracurriculars but are highly involved in just a few. So, don't stress too much about the numbers; just make sure you're engaged, growing, and genuinely interested in what you're doing.

6 months ago

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