6 months ago
Admissions Advice

Examples of extracurriculars for college (specifically ivy league colleges)

I will be a freshman at high school next year but I really want to be prepared for college. I know that my GPA or my SAT will not be a problem but I have no idea what extracurriculars to do. What types of extracurriculars would be good enough for prestigious colleges? (ex: Princeton, MIT, Stanford). Also, some things that I like to do are play the piano, swim, play a game called pickleball (It's a game that's a mix of ping pong and tennis), and biking.

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@alohomora6 months ago

In my opinion, any extracurricular is fine as long as you show commitment and dedication. I also play the piano, and what I've done with that is take ABRSM exams and join a music-related volunteering organization where I recently obtained a leadership position.

@ab20046 months ago

I ended up editing to elaborate, hope it's helpful and that you can take some of them into serious consideration

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Accepted Answer
6 months ago[edited]

Do whatever you like! As someone who has seen a lot of this, please take a moment. You're still in 8th grade; your perspectives, goals, and mindset will very likely shift in the next 4 years. Make plans now if you like, but don't count on them. Also, applying for college isn't like filling a shopping cart. You need to do thorough research and make sure you know you have valid, specific reasons you want to attend a school besides "prestige". Many factors play into selecting which colleges to apply to: location, career goals, campus atmosphere, finances, personality, etc. The Ivy Leagues are all unique schools; prestigious schools aren't all the same at all. There's not a "one size fits all" applicant profile for these prestigious schools that anyone can kind of just follow like a formula.

Also, I really respect your confidence in your GPA and SAT but also want to caution you that lots of stuff happens and changes during high school. Lots and lots of plans get derailed by unexpected life stuff. And what I think is one of the most important parts of college apps is being prepared not only academically but socially and mentally. Being prepared for failure, dealing with it, moving on, becoming more socially aware and mature, all of these things are crucial in "being prepared for college". Take time to develop yourself, not just your qualifications.

Just know that for tier 1 schools, you pretty much want to get as high a GPA and SAT score as you can within reasonable means, because many applicants to these schools will have perfect both. But this is VERY important: APPLICATIONS ARE NOT FORMULAS. There is no right answer!! No "should be doing". What works for someone else may not work for you at all. There isn't a "superior" EC; colleges aren't going to think playing piano is so much better than being in the knitting club. In fact, if you founded said knitting club, it'd probably be better than if you played piano but didn't have much to show for it. Unless you're getting involved in ECs that you actually care about or know you have a lot to say about, why even do them? Focus on finding and building passions, not trying to look good for colleges that probably get thousands of similar applicants. Do something you love that you can make an impact on. If you want to know about activity levels, you can look at CollegeVine's activity tiers.

6 months ago

Having a variety of extracurriculars looks good in college admissions because it shows them that you are well-rounded. If you take the ABRSM or RCM exams for piano and you have achieved a high level, it is worth putting it down. For sports, varsity swim would be good, but if you reach state or nationals, that would be even better. You should also join a couple of your school's clubs and try to earn a leadership position in those clubs. If you join a competitive club and reach state, nationals, or internationals, those are worth noting. Also, volunteer work is important! Doing a variety of volunteer work and doing 100+ hours looks very good as well! If you want to go above and beyond, you can try to start your own club or initiative to help the community!


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