How important are extracurriculars for a college application?
Extracurriculars are a nice thing to see, but contrary to popular belief, getting involved in everything you come across won't help you much at all. Colleges much prefer to see you develop a specific interest and stick with it. For example, if you love baseball, play on your school's team in high school, try to find non-school teams during off-season, and volunteer to help with a little league team. Developing a strong interest in one or two areas is much more genuine than doing a little of everything, and it shows colleges that you weren't just doing activities to impress them.
For the past 4 years that you've spent in high school, you've probably been told that you should get as involved as possible so you can have a great college application. It is true that grades are important, but being well-rounded is of even greater significance in the eyes of college undergraduate admissions officers. Extracurriculars play a role in demonstrating your leadership qualities, your ability to be well-balanced, your potential for being involved in college groups, and of course it shows your time management between academics and social settings. Now, I wouldn't suggest getting all wrapped up in joining a million different things, but I would propose being a part of some of the groups that you really feel can form you. Also, you don't necessarily have to be the president of the club or a captain to be noticed. Be a great team player regardless and in your application show how those extracurriulars have inspired you to do well; try to join things in high school that you might be interested in pursuing in college as well. Always remember the WHOLE application is what makes you a great potential student for a school, so make sure you're wrapping up a great package :)
Im sure colleges like to see it, but don't worry too much about it. If you're strong in other areas (grades, achievements, etc) then extra curriculars are not going to make or break you. I, personally, had no extracurricular activities but I did have high grades and an ACT score and was accepted to every college I applied for.
Colleges hunger for well rounded students. They want to see that you were not just doing schoolwork and going off to pick daises after school. They want to see what type of talents, interests, and community based skills you have acquired in your high school years. So, volunteer at a nursing home, hospital or local nursery if you are interested in the health/medical field. This will not only change your life, but it will show colleges that you truly are interested in the field. If you want to explore your options in kinesiology and sports, volunteer to be a referee at children's games, help coach a team over the summer, etc. You can also find conventions in big cities like Chicago which host programs for high school students who are interested in various subjects. I went to a medical NYLF (national youth leadership forum) program my junior year of high school and that peaked my interest because we got to see a variety of doctors in the workforce. I believe there is one for military, law, CSI, etc. Have a teacher, mentor, or your own parents nominate you!
Academics is of dire importance in college, but it is the extra-curricular activities the student is involved in which makes them attractive. For example, if you have a student with a 4.0 GPA who comes to school everyday and does nothing afterwards and you have a student with a 3.6 GPA who does oh so much around their community and school. Most colleges would prefer the student with the 3.6 because their grades are ok, but the extra-curricular activities is what makes them really interesting.
Colleges like to see extracurricular activities because it signals well rounded individuals. However, they do not want to see some one who joins everything just to put it on their resume. Admissions is more interested in the experience and knowledge you gain from the activity you choose to be involved with. So, don't think you have to have a ton of extracurriculars, just join the ones that you'll get the most out of!
Extracurriculars are important because they offer you an opportunity to show colleges that you are a well-rounded indivdual with leadership potential. However, a ton of extracurriculars will never compensate for a poor GPA, especially at schools with competitive admissions processes. Make sure that you choose extracurriculars wisely! Join clubs and activties that you are interested in and can make a serious committment to. No matter what, put your schoolwork first. Show colleges your ability to prioritize and manage your time by staying involved with your non-academic interests while keeping up your grades. In the admissions process, superficially joining a bunch of clubs just to put them on your resume will NOT put you ahead of someone who was seriously involved in only one activity and has a stronger GPA and test scores.
Very. But I would say community service is more important.
I would view extracurriculars more as a tiebreaker than anything else. Very few admissions offices are going to let them trump coursework, GPA, and test scores. But you're likely going to be bunched up with many other students within a given range and extracurricular activities (be it sports, clubs, community service) can help separate you from others in that segment.
- BC, AUA Representative