6 months ago
Admissions Advice

Can I still get into a great school if I did not do any clubs in my freshmen year?


I'm a current high school student and I am worried about my chances of getting into a really great school because I did not participate in any clubs in my freshmen year. However, I have gotten straight A's in all my classes and have kept up top grades on tests as well. Is starting extracurriculars in sophomore year too late? Thanks.

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
6 months ago


You are absolutely fine! Colleges are not going to judge because you didn't do extracurriculars in literally your FIRST YEAR of high school. I'm so proud of you: you came into the stressful high-school atmosphere (through a pandemic, no less!), and you have gotten straight A's and top marks.

In fact, I think that's even smarter than you waited until sophomore year to start doing clubs. Why? Because you have already established a pattern of straight A's! The reason why this is so good for you is because 1) you know how the high school material looks like and you already have the straight-A's work ethic to accomplish it and 2) now that's you've accomplished that solid foundation, you are better equipped to handle the extra work that extracurriculars might bring in 10th grade, when compared with a 9th grade who joined every club in school, but their grades were mediocre.

Dude, trust and believe me, you're 100% fine! If you want to go out for more clubs in the future, you can still do that. You still have 3 more years in that place, which is plenty of time to find an extracurricular that you like, and really flourish in it. High school is about work, but it's also about fun, and I'm sure you'll have plenty of time for that during your high-school career!

- Hope this helps!

6 months ago[edited]

There is no hard and fast rule as to how many clubs you have to belong to or how long. I will say however that ECs are very important and that "What you have accomplished" and "What impact you have on your community, school, and family (if you are low income and have to contribute), means more than how many activities you list and your time doing them.

As someone who is matriculating into a Top School, I would say that having evidence of leadership and intellectual vitality and a track record of doing things for others (whether that is volunteerism, community service, advocacy, and activism) is far more important than belonging to 6 clubs in HS for 4 years where you don't run them. Since practically everyone who applies to top schools has excellent ECs, you have to use your remaining time to select the few that will help you the most.

So if you are an accomplished musician, artist, or athlete, work on those spikes. But don't join the Lacrosse or Water Polo team now just because you think it looks good on your application. When application readers see a surge in activity only in 10th and 11th grade, it's rather suspect. I'll give you an analogy. If a top college is like applying to the best cooking school, they want you to show them that you have the potential to be a great cook. So if you have limited time, you can either apply with having some basic cooking skills across different disciplines like Baking, Grilling, Sauces, making Desserts, Salads, Appetizers, or having extensive knowledge of wine like a Sommelier. Or you can figure out what you are really good at without a formal education and put your best dish forward. Say your grandmother taught you how to make the best Moussaka ever, well then I'd say apply with your Moussaka! If the AOs taste the best Moussaka, and they know it's a very complicated Greek dish, they will think you have some innate talent. So in this example, your Moussaka is your "spike" dish.

So used your time wisely to figure out the 3 or 4 things that you can work on to make your application get noticed. It's not going to be how many clubs you list or their durations. It's going to be something only you can do best.

If the best colleges were only interested in students who check off the list of requirements, then their future classes would be extremely boring and uninpiring. I couldn't imagine myself going to Columbia with only cohorts that got 4.0s, 1550+ or 35+ test scores, took 10 APs, who were all Valedictorians, Varsity team captains, Editors of the school newspaper, and had 6 leadership positions in clubs. It's better to have a mix of students from all demographics and backgrounds with varying talents. Then it is like attending a fun learning Circus where everyone has something to offer and share. It's better to attend a place that continues to challenge you, where you are not #1,2,3,4, or 20 anymore but someone very interesting without a class rank, but a memorable name!

Good luck


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