This article is curated for Indian students and their parents who are considering applying for colleges abroad.
College admissions are definitely one of the most important phases in a student’s life. The excitement as well as the anticipation can be overwhelming. If you have been learning how to play an instrument, performing in a band or appearing for an examination will help you build a great application for your college admissions.
First things first, your academic report will always hold a higher position on the priority list. For admission, extracurriculars are often less important than grades, course rigor, and test scores.
But that doesn’t mean the extra curricular activities do not play a defining role in your college application. Colleges (or admission officers) look for drive, leadership, passion, time management, and commitment in potential students. Extra curriculars prove that you will contribute positively to the campus community, lead in areas you’re passionate about and will be committed to learning beyond classroom.
What kinds of extra curriculars are there?
You can choose from a range of extra curriculars that you enjoy, demonstrate your leadership skills and that aligns with your career goals.
- Academic activities – Quizzes, debates, pre-college programs, study abroad programs, etc.
These activities demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning beyond the classroom and an interest in furthering your education.
- Community activities – Service or volunteering
Colleges value these activities because they show you care about other people and will likely contribute to the campus community.
- Personality activities – Sports, scouts, music
Personality activities emphasize to colleges who you are beyond your grades, test scores, and application.
A good college application includes a blend of these activities.
How can music as an extra curricular help me get admission in my dream college?
Music is an amazing personality building and creative activity that colleges love to see in your resume. Practicing an instrument requires discipline and performance shows that candidate has the ability to collaborate, co-ordinate and commit to a larger goal.
Colleges look for applicants with in-depth knowledge and experience in a given field. Accordingly, there are 4 levels of extra curriculars.
- Level 1 – Extremely rare extracurriculars that show brilliant achievement or leadership qualities. e.g. – Winning national competitions, prestigious awards, etc.
- Level 2 – Demonstrate great levels of achievement and leadership. However, they are a bit more common than rare extracurricular activities. e.g. – Music distinctions, winning regional competitions, etc.
- Level 3 – These activities show a student’s interest in that particular thing. For e.g. – Leadership position in a small organization, a small distinction in music, etc.
- Level 4 – These are more common activities ranging from general roles in sports clubs, volunteering, theater clubs, musical memberships, etc.
Colleges look for applicants who are committed to the extracurriculars they choose and the best way to show this is through the length of your participation in an activity. The longer you have been involved in a pursuit, the better it will look on your resume.
To highlight the extracurriculars you have been most committed to, list activities in descending order. This way, you can direct the admission officers’ attention to the most important items. It is advisable to omit short-lived extracurricular activities from your resume.
Colleges are not on the hunt for academically gifted students with a specialty. They are looking for students who will make an impact on campus. They want students who will come to their campus and leave a mark – influencing the campus culture for the better.
Key Factors Colleges Look for in Extracurriculars of Applicants
- Complementary Activities
- Patterns or Inter-related Themes
- Leadership Positions
- Community Involvement and/or Social Impact
How many extra curricular activities should I have in my college applications?
Focus on quality>quantity.
Colleges are looking for candidates who have in depth knowledge in a few areas who can contribute highly to their ecosystem. You should avoid a calculated set of extra curricular activities that lack in subtlety. Choose activities that you genuinely enjoy and are good at.
If you want to study creative fields like design, marketing, education, etc. it’s best to invest yourself in artistic and creative extra curricular activities as well.
Super-curricular trumps extracurricular
In order to catch the eyes of your desired colleges, you should focus on what they are looking for.
Instead of randomly fill in the blanks, develop an academic passion.
Yearbook, debate, soccer, and building shelters for the poor are not academic passions. A college’s listed majors are academic passions.
Choose a combination of classes and AP tests that align most closely with this passion. Because any university likes to see you actively pursuing a depth of study that your high school cannot offer, take intensive college classes outside of school, especially if your chosen passion isn’t even a class taught at school.
This article was presented with the help of data collected from the following sources –