3 months ago
Admissions Advice

Worrying about Extracurriculars

Hello. I am a rising junior in HS. I am a bit worried about my extracurricular profile and how it affects my chances of getting into schools that I want.

The problem is my parents work full time and I do not have a car. I also have to take care of my brother and two dogs at home so I cannot partake in any activity after school. I do have some activities down outside of school that play an important part in my life like being a volunteer assistant youth baseball coach in my community, a volunteer student liaison for my school on a Character counts organization with school district and town leaders, 55 hours of community service, and work experience (and also family responsibilitiesas listed above). I was wondering if this was enough to get me into top schools.

My school does not do class rank, but I have a 4.6 weighted GPA, a 4.0 unweighted, and all either honors/AP classes for core classes (obviously not PE or electives). I have not taken the ACT/SAT yet. I am one of the top students in my class academically, but am worried about the extracurricular profile as it has driven down my chances on Collegevine. Should I be worried?

Would my story hurt my chances of getting into schools like Notre Dame, Northwestern, WashU in STL, UMichigan, and UIUC? I have been floating around college major ideas, but I think I may want to pursue computer science.

@Texas_Student3 months ago [edited]

I would suggest focusing on what you could do to improve your chances. There are many activities you can do from home. I don't know if this is an option for you, but I co-taught a GED class in Spanish from home (through the local adult learning center). Look for opportunities like that where you can do volunteer work from home using connections you already have. Also, if you have friends with driver's licenses, they might be able to drive you to some activities.

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
3 months ago

Yes, ECs are a pretty important part of your application and most definitely affect your chances like @unior mentioned. Where you are at right now isn't a bad spot but for the caliber of schools you are applying to you will want to increase those ECs for sure. Keep doing the coaching and student liaison volunteering and see if there are ways for you to take on more responsibility, leadership, or run some new initiatives for those. You're going to want to get more community service hours too - being frank with you, 55 hours isn't going to be enough to sway an admissions officer. At minimum I would suggest doubling those hours but since you are a rising junior I think 3x is easily doable.

The good news though is that the Common App has an activity called "Family Responsibilities" which sounds like something you'll want to use. The Common App and colleges recognize not every student can participate in ECs because they have other things going on in life which can prevent them from doing so. You'll want to make sure your description for this activity is very well written and clearly explains your responsibilities and why you may have fewer ECs compared to other students over 4 years.

Not to mention your academics and rigor are both great so while there is room for growth for your ECs you're still in a good spot and have time to build out those ECs a bit more.

3 months ago

Honestly, a lack of ECs will affect your chances.

While I think colleges will understand why you don't have a lot of ECs, don't expect any miracles to happen.

Your best bet would be to explain your situation either in the additional info section or you can maybe write your essay about it (if you feel strongly about this 'situation').

Also, since you're a rising junior, you still have time. Maybe try to participate more in extracurriculars. There are a lot of things you can do at home as @Texas_Student has said. You are academically very strong (competitive for almost any school in the world). Try to improve your ECs by doing stuff from home and you will have a pretty decent shot at the colleges you mentioned in your question.

As you've mentioned you want to pursue CS, maybe you can work on that? Participate in competitions or create your own projects (easier said than done) and that will definitely help your ECs. CS is one of those areas where you don't really have to go outside to do something meaningful.

Hope this helps!

Have a great day ahead.

3 months ago

I completely see where you are coming from. I too do not have a car and with a single parent who has a full-time job, there is much I have to devote time to at my house. The activities that you have done are great! They show the role you play in your community and help to reflect your priorities which colleges like to see. My advice to you is to look into things that you can do from home or online during your free time. I believe websites such as DoSomething.org list several activities they will reward you for (such as picking up cigarette butts and sending in photo confirmation). With some research, I'm sure you could find similar opportunities that would allow you to get hours around your home or community that don't necessarily require the use of a car. Good luck! You've got this!


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