Which Extracurricular Activities Are Attractive to Colleges?

Posted on: 2010-11-29

Good grades and high SAT scores along cannot guarantee a student admission to an elite university, because American universities also see great value in a student's performance outside the classroom. University admissions committees look for students who can bring fresh blood to its university community, which is often reflected through extracurricular activities (Chinese: 课外活动) .

American universities want to know how you spend your time outside the classroom, especially how you affect life in the high school community and the community you live in, and whether you have made a significant contribution to it. University admissions committees want to choose students that will provide social and intellectual contributions to their university community. Hence, what colleges look for is talent, passion, dedication and achievements. The basic strategy of choosing extracurricular activities is choosing only a few activities, but doing them very well, showing your leadership skills and/or special talent and passion. Schools want to see you participating in the extracurricular activities that you love and stand out in it. Join a few clubs (2 or 3 activities), and stay in these clubs for at least three years or more. You should invest yourself whole-heartedly, and try your best to acquire leadership position in these clubs.

Which extracurricular activities are good?

1) Genuine Interest (Chinese: 真实的兴趣)

Participate in extracurricular activities that you have a deep interest in and truly love, rather than simply because it may be helpful to your college application.

2)Leadership (Chinese: 领导才能)

Leadership is an important characteristic of a strong candidate for the top schools. Do not focus on what position you get, but rather pay attention to the impact (Chinese: 影响力).

3)Commitment (Chinese: 持之以恒 )

You shouldn't attend too many extracurricular activities. Instead, you should ensure that you have spent a lot of time in each extracurricular activity you participate in, and have participated for certain length of time. Universities place a high value on which practical things a student has done in this extracurricular activity, whether he has invested serious effort in it, what he has harvested from the extracurricular activities, and how long he has been in it. Admission professionals tend to prefer the depth far greater than the breadth.

4)A record of Excellence (Chinese: 杰出成就)

You can get the attention of the admission committee staff by being brilliant in one area or different from others. Whether your contribution is significant is often one of the deciding factors regarding whether or not you will be accepted by an elite university. It could be succeeding in natural science, such as patents, the title of Little Scientist, Technology Innovation Award, Intel Competition Award, International Olympiad Medals; It could also be social and human achievements, including participation in Model United Nations Competition, or the Global Youth Leadership Summit, significant contributions to the expansion of the club members ...

By focusing on a diverse range of extracurricular activities related to each other, you will demonstrate several important features valuable to admissions committees at top universities.

Extracurricular activities can be any of the following items:

  1. Various sports.
  2. Student work: planning, organizing and leadership skills in all kinds of student activities.
  3. Various clubs.
  4. Social activities: for example, fund-raising for the Red Cross Relief Fund or social welfare activities, supporting the poor in deprived areas, etc.
  5. Art performances: music, drama, dance and other art activities.
  6. Bulletin Editor: surveys, interviews, writing, painting, etc.
  7. Work experience: paid work, unpaid internships, helping with the family business.
  8. Taking care of younger siblings and other household responsibilities.