Colleges love extracurricular activities. So shouldn’t my child do as many as possible to impress the admissions committee? That seems to make sense but it’s not the case. Think not too many, not too few. Depth not breadth. Ultimately, do what you love in a way that shows the colleges the unique person you are.
Have your student participate in activities that not only interest him but ones in which he can make a difference. Some examples include: scouts, clubs, sports, music, dance, and community service. Look for opportunities that enable your child to acquire and demonstrate leadership skills. This can be a time of self discovery and development. A student that has worked hard and is accomplished in an area or two will catch the eye of college admissions counselors.
Many students end up writing their college admissions essay on an experience they had or something they learned while pursuing one of their extracurricular activities. My daughter wrote her essay on her life as a ballerina, which was her main passion and activity in high school. In her essay, a friend’s daughter reflected on what she learned about herself as she created a charcoal portrait of a child in the homeless program she founded. She sent a photograph of the portrait as a supplement to her essay. Her sister wrote about the theme of grace that was interwoven through all her experiences and service opportunities in high school.
The extracurricular activities our children are involved in reveal a lot about who they are. The authenticity that can be expressed through these experiences is helpful to the college admissions rep trying to get a clear and accurate picture of the value a student would bring to their campus.
Get the “insider tips” by talking with current college students and their parents about their college prep journey. Find out what extracurriculars their children did in high school and how the activities were reflected on their application.
Last, make good use of the summer between the 10th and 11th grade years. Have your student look for jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities that interest him. You might also consider one of the summer programs for high school students offered by various colleges. Keep a journal of impressions and lessons learned while pursuing these activities. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to let the colleges know who you are by the extracurricular activities you pursued.
Read on to learn more about preparing for college.
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