College admissions officers consider many factors, including your GPA and rigor of curriculum, standardized test scores, essays, recommendation letters and extracurricular activities.
But which activities should you include on your application, and why?
Consider joining clubs as early as freshman year. Maybe you’re not sure which clubs you’ll like and which ones you won’t like – and that’s okay. But it’s important to figure this out and stick with the ones you do like for two, three or four years.
You should look into different types of clubs: sports, the arts, community service, language and so on. In fact, sometimes a club can turn into a lifelong hobby or maybe your college major.
Don’t just consider clubs that are school-sponsored or formal. Instead, think about what you’ve done outside of school: maybe you dance six days a week, or participate in gymnastics, read fiction for pleasure, build model trains, or have email pen pals in other countries. All of these can tell an admissions officer an awful lot about you.
Colleges want to see what kind of person you are, and what makes you, you. They want to see what kinds of contributions you’ll make to their campus community, and they’ll get this sense from the non-academic parts of your college application.
Some tips for filling out your college apps:
Use your activities list in the same way that you use other parts of the application: to give colleges a better sense of who you are – and why you’re the type of student they should want on their campus.
Stephen is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.