Extracurricular Selection for College Admissions
Focus on those extracurricular activities that you truly enjoy because you are likelier to become increasingly better at them.
Extracurricular activities are an essential component of gaining admission to a dream school. In addition to grades and test scores, college admissions officers pay close attention to how applicants spend their time outside of the scholastic environment. These extracurricular decisions demonstrate commitment, leadership, passion, time management and more, and they often make the difference between admission and denial.
At Going Ivy, we help our clients identify extracurricular activities that fit with their natural interests and that will best showcase their skills and aptitudes to college admissions officers. We work with students all around the Valley and beyond, and we know the landscape of extracurricular options throughout the school year and in the summer, whether you’re staying in town or escaping the heat.
Why Extracurricular Activities Matter
Good grades and high test scores are not enough in today’s competitive college landscape. Every year, top schools around the country receive thousands of applications from students with 4.0 grade-point averages and high scores on the SAT and ACT who are not accepted. For the 2018 entering class, Harvard recently announced that it accepted just 5.2 percent of its 39,506 applicants for a total of 2.056. Yale admitted 2,072 students out of 32,900 applicants. Altogether, the eight Ivy League schools had a total of 281,600 applicants with fewer than 10 percent being extended offers of admission. The statistics demonstrate that not every otherwise qualified student will be admitted to his or her dream college.
The extracurricular activities selected by students can be one of the differentiators.
Some students make the mistake of trying to cram a bunch of extracurricular activities into their junior and senior years in scattershot approaches. They’ll start babysitting, join the art club, volunteer at the library and participate in four Tough Mudder obstacle races. This is usually the wrong strategy.
Top schools are less interested in students who are involved in a large number of different extracurricular activities than they are in students who have specialized in the types of activities about which they are passionate. According to Jeff Brenzel, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, high school students should focus on those extracurricular activities that they truly enjoy because they are likelier to become increasingly better at them. Admissions officers are looking less for people who are moderately good at many different things. Your hobbies and interests don’t need to be well-rounded. Instead, admissions officers want incoming classes that are well-rounded groups of individual specialists in a variety of different areas.
It is important to identify what your interests and talents are, and to focus on extracurricular activities that enhance those. Four years of involvement in a couple of focused areas are likelier to help you to stand out among the applicant pools. Holding positions of leadership of extracurricular groups is important, but you can also create leadership opportunities by identifying new clubs or groups that your high school lacks and creating your own.
The added benefit of taking the time to discover what activities you are committed to outside of the classroom is that it might steer you toward the perfect college for you. Your love for playing the piano might turn into a music minor at your dream school, your involvement in high school sports might mean a college with active intramural sports leagues is a must, or your involvement in your church might lead you to consider colleges with a stronger religious tradition.
And don’t just take three months off every year. The decisions you make in the summer will impact – for better or worse – your chances of gaining admission to a competitive college. Rather than simply taking the summer months off, students who wish to gain admission at top schools need to find the right combination of jobs, volunteer activities, summer sport camps in Northern Arizona or internships that are related to the activities that they are passionate about so that they can clearly demonstrate who they are when they are not in school.
How Going Ivy Can Help
With a team that is comprised of expert tutors, former admissions officers and academic specialists, Going Ivy is a consulting group that uses results-driven approaches in order to help students of all backgrounds to gain admission to their dream colleges. We’ve seen how the extracurricular activities you choose can highlight your unique background and personality.
We offer our clients assistance with choosing extracurricular activities that might better ignite your individual passions – and improve admissions chances along the way. Our clients are motivated, and many times, they want to be involved in lots of activities. Going Ivy helps you weigh your options and help bring clarity to which activities are the best use of your time if you find yourself in the position of too many activities and too little time to do them all.
Our help with extracurricular selection coaching is part of a broader program of creating custom admission roadmaps. Our approach is holistic, recognizing that test preparation, tutoring and admissions consulting are all interrelated and must be viewed as a whole.
Want to see if we can help you? Call now for a free, no obligation consultation with one of our Phoenix-based consultants to see if we help see your college dreams come true.
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