Do Extracurricular Activities Help You Get Into College?

The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the US answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school.

“I’ve heard that spending a little time with many extracurricular activities is less attractive than a ton of time with one or a few. If I haven’t found an activity I’m passionate about, how can I still seem like a dedicated individual?”—Tami G., Pine Bluff, AR.

A: Follow your passion
Quality not quantity is something to remember when engaging in activities. Too often students think that they need to do everything and be great in school. If you are searching for an inspiring activity and nothing seems to match, take some time to evaluate what you have tried. What did you like and what did you not like and why? Even by not finding some activity that suits you is a learning experience as long as you take the time to determine why you did not like it. What is your passion? Take your passion and make it work for you?
– Hamilton Gregg – Educational Consultant – Private Practice

A: Size of the college is one variable to consider in your college search
You are who you are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow. If your list of activities does not paint a picture of being well rounded, it would be disingenuous to portray yourself otherwise. This dilemma can be a personal wake up call for you to take a risk, leave your comfort area, and engage in a meaningful activity. Ask people who know you, your family, friends, teachers, and counselor for ideas. This might be a struggle for you, but I encourage you to embrace this problem, worry less about how things look, and focus on finding meaning in this dilemma. Then share your journey with colleges!
– John Frahlich— Counseling Department Chair – Hudson High School

A: With extracurricular activities, sometimes less is more
Yes, colleges want to enroll a well-rounded class. However, that doesn’t always mean that every individual is well-rounded in his or her interests or talents; rather, collectively, a class is made up of a mosaic, and each tile shines in different ways. Your contributions should be sustained and meaningful. Find things you care about and do them well. Perhaps you will lead, perhaps you will support; but make sure you contribute. Your significant activity might even be a job where you learn a lot. Commitment and depth is far more important (for your application and for your life!) than joining a bunch of clubs to make your list longer.

– Monica Inzer– Vice President & Dean of Admission & Financial Aid – Hamilton College