Ask a Collegiette: What Extracurricular Activities Do Colleges Want?

Are you a smart and savvy pre-collegiette looking for answers to some of your most personal questions about college? You know, the ones about boys, classes, roommates and parties that your school’s guidance office can’t help you with? Jen is here to answer those questions! Whatever your concern, she’ll do her best to help you so you can make sure you don’t just survive college, but rock it!

What extracurricular activities do colleges look for? – Maria


Maria,

I’m glad you asked this question, since extracurricular activities often get pushed aside when people think about what colleges notice. Even though they’re not the main focus, they do make a difference.

When an admissions office receives your college application, they’ll look at all of its components, and your extracurricular activities definitely play a big part. Looking at what you were involved with in high school can give them a better idea of your leadership skills, interests and talents. Unfortunately, my obsession with Pinkberry and my extensive knowledge of all of the different froyo combinations wasn’t an activity I could include in my own college applications!

In terms of what specific activities colleges look for, this really varies depending on the person and the school. Overall, activities that show a commitment to a cause or community service tend to be good choices. Activities related to whatever you want to major in can also be a boost too. If you want to study journalism and you were involved with your school newspaper or television station during your time in high school, the admissions staff will really appreciate your involvement. This often means going to weekly club meetings regularly, assisting club leaders with tasks that benefit the entire club and assisting with events or fundraisers.

Since there isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all package of which specific extracurriculars colleges look for, I would just say to stick with what your interest and passions are and go from there. Do the activities you enjoy and care about, and that’ll get you further than anything. Something else to keep in mind is that colleges would rather see only a few extracurriculars that you stuck with all throughout high school than a ton of extracurriculars that you only did for a short time (or weren’t very involved in). When you stick with a few activities you care about, it shows your commitment and passion towards the cause, showing the school that you can pour your energy into a few great causes while also earning good grades.

For example, I was involved with my school’s community service club during all four years of high school and had a leadership role during my junior and senior years. With all of the service work I completed, I even earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award, so I could show my future school that I won an honorable award, had leadership skills and cared about my community.

So don’t stress too much about the specific activities a college will look for, since as long as the activities involve something you care about, the college will appreciate your efforts. Best of luck!

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About The Author

Jen is a 2016 graduate of Messiah College, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's a proud Bostonian who is obsessed with tattoos, puppies, magazines and Sephora. She's been reading Her Campus since high school and was thrilled to join the HC team as a National Contributing Writer in September 2013. She became an HC Beauty Blogger in February 2014 and continued to write on-trend beauty posts until July 2016. A few highlights from her time writing for HC included attending and writing about two BeautyCon events and Cosmopolitan's Fun Fearless Life in 2015. You can follow her on Twitter @JenFlanagan14 and on Instagram @jenlea14.