Colleges become more competitive every year. To really stand out from the crowd, athletes need to do something noteworthy. Having an amazing extracurricular activity will really set you apart from your peers. Most high school athletes don’t have strong extracurriculars, because so much time is spent on sports and school.
You have to choose an extracurricular that’s not related to your sport. YOUR EXTRACURRICULAR SHOULD BE IMPRESSIVE BY ITS TITLE ALONE.
Most people say to choose an extracurricular based on your passion. This is usually sound advice. You’re bound to work harder, and be better at something you’re passionate about. After all, coaches do factor in your personality during the recruitment process. Set yourself apart by doing an extracurricular not everyone else is doing. Think outside of the box. Uniqueness is usually a positive, but not always. Doing an extracurricular based on your passion isn’t a good idea if your passion is non-impressive, or completely ridiculous. President of the Rubik’s Cube Club, or Beanie Baby Collecting Club is not going to cut it. Collecting Beanie Babies isn’t a sin, but no respectable college will recruit you for it.
Colleges are focused on quality over quantity. High school students often mistakenly do like 7 extracurriculars, thinking this will make them look impressive. It doesn’t. Colleges see right through that. Sucking at 7 things isn’t impressive. Just choose one extracurricular and focus on that thing. Seriously focus. It takes roughly 10,000 hours to master something. Don’t get too carried away though. School and sports take precedent over extracurriculars, since they are more important in the college recruitment process.
Creating something on the internet is huge, and looks impressive to colleges. Creating something on the internet does not have to be ridiculously difficult, and there are so many different options. And, at this point, Google can teach you how to make anything.
Coding is all the rage nowadays, and you don’t even need to know how to code to make a website. Get a domain name, website template, and hosting services, and you’re ready to go. Your website can’t be inappropriate. Examples of different websites you could make include ecommerce, informational, blogs, entertainment, discussion forums, news, etc.
Podcasts have recently risen in popularity. Podcasts can be made about any topic. Something you are passionate about would work best. One simple podcasting idea is just to interview people in a specific industry.
If you are more knowledgeable than someone else about any topic you can make an online course. But, there must be people that want to learn about your topic. Obscure topics can work great. I chose to make my course on the college athletic recruitment process.
Be careful with this one. Colleges generally want creators at their school. Just don’t make anything inappropriate. If you do make a youtube channel, you have to make a concerted effort to make it look good. Also, your channel should have a more professional tone.
Clubs are probably my least favorite “good” extracurricular, because it seems that everyone is captain of some club. Nonetheless, clubs look good to colleges. You must have a leadership position in your club. Leadership positions exude trust, character, and responsibility. Class president looks a lot better than class treasurer. Creating a club is a good option. Only do meaningful clubs. Examples of good clubs include anything related to government, academics, debate, social justice, volunteering, music, writing, and art. I may be leaving out something, but you get the gist.
Clubs like debate or band, should not be replacing your sport, unless you’re looking at colleges that recruit specifically for those things. Yearbook is a pretty lame club, unless you are actually creating something, or learning skills. Use your head when joining clubs. Don’t join clubs for anime reading, movie watching, or any other unimpressive things.
Colleges respect creation. Creating most any form of art is acceptable, but drawing and painting are your best bet. The only stipulation for art is that it needs to be showcased somewhere. Doodling while you’re supposed to be taking notes doesn’t count. Entering in art competitions is a must. Art awards and achievements make you a legitimate artist in the eyes of a college.
Practice, practice, practice! Drawing like anything else is about repetition. Art books, classes, and youtube videos are all helpful skill building resources.
The same things I said for art and drawing work for painting.
Writing can make you look like a genius. Writing includes books, poetry, essays, etc. Writing blog posts for your site, or another publication can work too. But, your writing must be published, or at least accessible somewhere for colleges to see.
Both paper books and ebooks work. Writing a book seems daunting. But your book doesn’t have to be super long. Even 20 pages could work. If that seems to long, write some short stories. Fiction, Non- fiction, and even kid’s books work. No one expects a high schooler to publish a book. And it is so easy to publish a book on amazon now. Obviously, don’t write about topics that would be inappropriate for school. If you love writing, start writing some books.
Liberal colleges go especially crazy for poetry. Poetry has an elitist, sophisticated vibe. Whether that is a good thing depends on you. Poetry is similar to art, in that you should be entering poetry competitions. Performing poetry somewhere also adds to your professionalism and credibility. It would not be too hard to get a small coffee shop or library to let you do a reading.
Essays are generally more academic and present an analysis or critique on a specific topic or issue. For obvious reasons, colleges love academic-related extracurriculars. Most college readings are long essays. Essays have competitions you can enter too.
Film or TV scripts are a pretty niche form of writing, but they are pretty cool. Writing film scripts would look especially good if you are trying to go to a film school. Make sure you are following the correct format if you choose to write scripts. Scripts should be critiqued, and entered in competitions.
Everyone loves music! Don’t use music as a substitute for your sport though, unless you are some world class level musician. Not too many schools recruit musicians. Playing any instrument or form of music works. You want to be a DJ or a rapper? Do it. Music is self-expression. Just make sure you start early, as learning most instruments requires a large time commitment. Showcase your music somewhere, and enter some competitions like every other art form I’ve talked about.
Volunteering looks good to colleges for obvious reasons. But, you have to be serious about volunteering for it to count as an extracurricular. You can’t volunteer one time at your local church. Although churches are a great place to find volunteering opportunities. You can volunteer around your community, or you can go on some sort of mission to Africa to be a humanitarian. Tons of volunteering abroad opportunities exist. Just do a quick google search. Americorps and Go Abroad are two such institutions.
Eagle Scout Projects are usually centered around community service. You don’t have to be an Eagle Scout, just check out their projects for inspiration. Eagle Scout Projects are pretty serious, and have a large impact. If your project is substantial enough, you can get it into the local newspaper. This would look excellent to colleges.
Work experience and summer internships show leadership, and responsibility. Try to get a position of power such as manager. Strong titles look so much better than being a generic employee. You should also work for a company in a field you are interested in. Work for free if you have to. Colleges don’t care if you work at McDonald’s. The company you work for should be reputable, and you should be learning valuable skills.