We will review and discuss your extracurricular interests and activities, which include community service, high school clubs and governance committees, performing and visual arts, athletics, work experiences, hobbies, and other endeavors that are meaningful to you. These extracurricular accomplishments will be an essential component in your college application and they will comprise the majority of your résumé.
CollegeBridge Reality Check
When you attend a college or university, you are a member of a community—a community that the admissions committee has consciously created from a vast pool of applicants. The committee is in the business of admitting individuals who will constitute the college’s future community and who cohere with the college’s vision of itself as an educational institution preparing young men and women to become productive members in our society. Therefore, the college admissions officers that review your file will consider how you have been a citizen in your high school or community at large. They will instinctively ask questions, such as: “How have you shown your capacity to care about others? “Do you recognize that you are part of a larger community and have you demonstrated a sense of responsibility for that community?” “How will you interact or engage with your future peers both in and beyond the classroom?” “How will you influence or shape our institution?” Your extracurricular track record during your high school career will indicate to them something about your social maturity and civic consciousness.
Extracurricular interests and activities cover an exceptionally vast array of topics. The following comments are selective, but contain some truths that are applicable to the category as a whole.
• Your high school will probably offer an extensive list of school clubs—academic and social—community outreach programs, and student governance committees. Colleges will consider how you have engaged in these opportunities.
• Visual and performing arts are profoundly integral and vital to our social and cultural life. Your artistic talents and endeavors are an expression of who you are, what motivates you, and what you enjoy. Your involvement, performance, or creations may also express your creativity, and demonstrate your work ethic and commitment to developing those talents.
• Athletics are an important activity for healthy and well-balanced individuals. Your participation in high school sports is an early rite of passage that teaches life lessons, fosters self-understanding, and develops the requisite capacity to work in a team. Only a very select few of you will participate in NCAA collegiate sports, but exceptional athletic ability, when combined with outstanding academic performance, confers a distinct advantage in admission to highly selective schools.
• Your work experience may reflect the economic realities that you and your family face, and, therefore, may limit your involvement in certain extracurricular activities. Nonetheless, most admissions committees recognize work experiences as a valuable component in your maturation and emotional growth.
• The colleges that you apply to will also take note of how you have exerted leadership. In what venue you have been a leader will matter less than the fact that you took initiative, assumed responsibility for others, and that you have shown the ability to work effectively with your peers. The more selective colleges will have greater expectations that you have distinguished yourself through some form of leadership.
Your college gatekeepers have no interest in, and they will see through, any attempt that you make to pad your résumé with either superficial positions or activities. Any ruse to impress them is futile, and ultimately undermines the impact of your application. They are not looking for eighteen-year-old Renaissance individuals, nor do they expect that you have already changed the world. Their fundamental criterion is: “How have you demonstrated your commitment or perseverance in whatever you passionately pursued through your extracurricular activities?”