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Popular Extracurricular Activities for College Applications

Popular Extracurricular Activities for College Applications

Participating in extracurricular activities is a great way to make your college application stand out from the rest. While engaging in activities that reflect your unique interests and passions, you can also build life-long friendships, develop useful skills, and create connections in your community. From volunteer work to sports teams, there are countless extracurricular activities for high school students to choose from that can enrich their lives and give them an edge when applying for colleges. In this blog, we'll discuss some of the most popular extracurricular activities available today and how they can help students prepare for college applications.

When considering college applicants, the admissions officer looks for well-rounded people, meaning that they consider both academics and extracurricular activities and want to see that you’re passionate and proactive in each activity you engage in. In this article, we will separate the popular extracurricular activities into categories. If your school does not offer the activities mentioned below, you can look into joining an online group with similar interests or create your own club with like-minded peers!

Academic club is one of the popular extracurricular activities

Academic clubs are most often associated with schools, as academic teams often represent their school by attending competitions at all levels, from regional to international. Participating in an academic club will demonstrate your passion for a particular subject, willingness to work hard, and ability to collaborate in order to produce great results. Whether you are pursuing STEM or non-STEM majors, there are many popular academic clubs, such as:

  • Mu Alpha Theta: Math Honor Society
  • National Honor Society
  • Science National Honors Society
  • Robotics Club
  • Business Club

In addition to academic clubs, students also have the option to participate in competitive STEM teams that are completely focused on the competitive aspect of their disciplines. Examples are: 

  • American Mathematics Competitions
  • Caribou Mathematics Competition
  • FIRST Robotics Competition
  • High School Innovation Challenge
  • DECA Virtual Business Challenge

Academic clubs can demonstrate your ability to work hard and perform well in an academic setting; however, participating in sports highlights your soft skills – determination, resilience, and patience, among many others. There are additional skills that sports can develop, such as leadership, time management, and teamwork. In addition, being a talented athlete in America gives you opportunities to receive sport-specific scholarships and advantages in the admissions process. With so many athletic options to choose from during high school, you should choose a sport that you enjoy playing or want to receive further practice in. If your high school doesn’t have a dedicated team for the sport you’re most interested in, consider checking for community teams or asking your counselor if any nearby high schools have a team that you could join.

Community & Social Awareness

Another critical element of your college application is engagement with your local community. You may perform exceptionally well in academics and sports, but how do you give back to your community? Offering your time and effort by participating in a community service activity demonstrates many excellent qualities on college applications. Volunteering for a cause you genuinely care about shows that you are trying to make a difference, improve the world, and gain strong social awareness.
Popular community activities are:

  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Key Club
  • Humanitarian Club
  • Animal Rights Club
  • Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Cancer Foundation
  • Environmental Club
Creative Pursuits

Students who want to develop their artistic talents can join many creative extracurricular activities. Creative activities are for students who want to pursue an artistic career and major in college or enjoy creating art and want to gain new skills. With the rising popularity of STEAM terminology (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics), Arts disciplines are gradually being acknowledged as equally important to students’ educations. Creative pursuits are an essential part of students’ well-rounded development because students learn to understand the value of the arts in society and culture.
There are many clubs in schools you can participate in, such as:

  • Theatre Club
  • Art Club 
  • Photography Club
  • Wood making Club
  • Film Club
  • Dance
  • Choir

In addition to clubs, you can also consider participating in multiple art competitions happening year-round to build your portfolio and receive recognition for your progress!

Speech and Political Interest

Public speaking is a must-have skill that all students should possess. Regardless of the major they are pursuing, having excellent public speaking skills will help them better communicate ideas, delegate tasks, and form cohesive arguments. Most high schools and communities have clubs and activities related to Speech and Debate. Debate and Public Speaking groups train individuals to speak confidently in front of people, think critically under pressure, and back up their opinions with logic and evidence.

Examples of Speech and Political Interest Activities can be:

  • Mock Trial
  • Debate Team

Many students think internships are only for college students to receive work experience; however, there are numerous internship opportunities offered to high-school students. Completing an internship during high school can greatly add to one’s college applications. Having an internship under your belt means that you can cooperate and collaborate with adults in a professional setting, as well as show that you are genuinely motivated and dedicated in your field. Students who complete an internship during high school often have a leg up when entering their chosen major and can gain valuable networking connections or specialized opportunities in college applications or during their college career due to their determination to gain deeper knowledge in their particular field. Students can check out internship opportunities here.

Above is a list of popular extracurricular activities for college applications! If none of these activities suit your interests and passions, you can always work with teachers and faculty advisors to find and develop activities more tailored to your goals and interests. Regardless of your activities, your applications will exemplify your unique personal journey, passions, and values!


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