Innovative Extracurricular Activities to Boost Your College Application

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Applying to college can be scary. As you apply to various colleges and universities in your area and beyond, you may feel overwhelmed by all the different things other students put on their resumes. Even if you have good grades and good recommendation letters, you might feel like you need something more to show the admissions boards. That is where extracurricular activities can become the difference between standing out in the pile of applications and just falling in line with the rest. 

The term ‘extracurriculars’ is quite broad. They are an activity or social club where you can spend time learning and expanding on a more specified topic of choice. While, on the surface, these may not seem like much compared to all your classes, homework, and teacher recommendations, they can become a big decision point for the admissions board of a college you are applying to. The admissions folks like to accept well-rounded students with all sorts of niche interests and original ideas. Here is a list of 7 extracurricular activities you can participate in to help you find the best path toward admission acceptance. 


1. Internships 

Taking part in an internship can be very beneficial for your academic resume and your professional resume in the years to come. Whether you are interested in law and work as an intern at a nearby law office, or you are interested in marketing, and you work as an intern at your local real estate office, finding an internship in the field you want to study can show admissions and future employers just how dedicated you are to the career you love. Internships can teach you life skills such as time management, leadership, and how to work with people of differing ages and backgrounds. Sometimes, working with professional adults earlier in life can give us a new perspective on work, our lives, and our goals. Check out the NSHSS Intern Readiness Certificate Program, which can help students develop their skills as they enter the workforce.


2. After School Jobs 

There is a flip side to working with adults in professional settings. It might seem a bit 

silly on the surface, but not all jobs have to take place inside an office, even if you want to end up there one day. By working at any number of after-school jobs in your area, you can build confidence in other ways through just getting out and working hard for a few hours every night or on the weekends. Plenty of jobs work well with student schedules, such as restaurants, movie theaters, car washes, grocery stores, and even libraries. These jobs may not feel like extracurriculars, but they can still be listed on your college application as a way to show admissions that you work hard and commit your time to work. And as a bonus, unlike most high school extracurriculars, you can get paid for them! 


3. Community Service 

Finding ways to give back to your local community is a fantastic way to improve your 

college essay and learn more about yourself. Community service is a far-reaching field with all sorts of avenues to look into. And they are not found to be hard. It is more than likely that your high school has a handful of common community service projects that you can sign up for. For example, key and beta clubs are standard choices you can locate through your school’s administration. Community service is a great way to give yourself over to helping others before beginning a new chapter in your life. It can become a healthy way to clear your head, gain some perspective, and give back to those less fortunate. And, not for nothing, but it's completely free. A win-win-win! 


4. Travel 

The world is a big place, and for most of us we tend to stay within our city limits, 

especially around high school age. But if you can afford it and find the right place and program with which to travel, seeing other parts of the world is a surefire way to broaden your horizons and explore new parts of this big world. Alongside that, traveling is also a great extracurricular. As surprising as that might be, traveling can be an excellent addendum to your college application. By demonstrating your willingness to step outside your comfort zone, try new things, and meet new people, all outside the confines of your local school, you are showing a future admissions board just how brave, bold, and well-rounded you truly are. While it can be one of the more costly extracurriculars, finding the right pricing and chaperones can be a truly rewarding experience that pays off in more ways than one. 


5. Sports 

While sports might be one of the more classic examples, they still hold great merit by 

today’s academic standards. By participating in recreational competitions, whether in groups or individuals, you show a strong commitment to hard work. Playing a sport can be frustrating. You are likely to lose as often, if not more, than you succeed in any given match or game. But these losses can teach a student the importance of getting back up and trying again. That is exactly what a college is looking for. Being a ‘well-rounded student’ is all about the ability to try and try again. And it is not just football or basketball that a college might consider extracurricular. Everything from golf to swimming, to cheerleading, to chess is considered a sport and can therefore be categorized as extracurricular. And they all have their place in college applications. So take a look at what sports you have participated in, or which ones you might be interested in, and go for it. It is never too late to join a team, pick up a racket, and get to work. You never know just how handy it could be when those college applications begin. 


6. SAT/ACT Prep Classes 

When it comes time to submit your applications, your test results can go a long way. And 

just like any school test, you must prepare and study to receive a good grade. While they may be state-standardized tests, SAT/ACTs still ask a lot of students and can be quite challenging. Committing your free time over a summer to taking prep classes will greatly improve your chances of success. It can also help to list these as extracurriculars when submitting to colleges. It can show that you are a dedicated student who is willing to go above and beyond to achieve your goals. NSHSS webinars are useful for test prep, financial aid, college admissions, and other topics geared toward student success. 


7. Arts 

Finding an artistic outlet in high school can be a fantastic way to discover more about 

yourself and your talents. It can align you early on with like-minded students and expose parts of the world you never would see otherwise. It is also an amazing extracurricular to list on your college applications and future resumes. Now, the term ‘art’ covers a lot of ground. Common art extracurriculars are theater, AV Club, painting, improv groups, playing music, or writing. If it is an inventive and individualistic way of expressing yourself creatively, it can generally fall under the term "the arts." So whether you dream of a career in the arts or do it for fun after school with friends, consider listing your artistic endeavors in your college application and essay. You never know where it might take you. 

As you can see, extracurriculars can be the key that unlocks your college essays and applications. Sometimes, the thought of juggling all of this can be very overwhelming. Luckily, we at NSHSS are here for you. We want to show you just how valuable your talents and interests are and how they can best be served to grow your future. Now that you’ve seen what extracurriculars are and how expansive they can be check out this article to discover just how beneficial they can become. And remember, there is no time like the present to go out and find the right extracurricular for you!