Importance of Extracurriculars for building a strong profile.

 At the highest level, colleges want students who will succeed in their studies and beyond. Colleges use your High School scores/GPA, SAT scores, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, class rank and interests to judge your readiness to attend their school. Will you be able to handle the academic rigor of their classes?

Admission Officers also assess your potential as a graduate of their school. Are you someone who could become a CEO? Win the Nobel Prize? Become a Prime Minister? Colleges use your extracurricular activities, application essays and your letters of recommendation to judge your ability, focus and future potential.

Extracurricular activities that help differentiate you, carry the most weight. It is better to have a few activities with more depth than dabbling in several. Maintaining good grades while participating in extracurriculars shows good time management and a multi-dimensional individual. Broadly the extracurriculars fall in the following categories:

  1. Leadership: Being in the student council. Prefect, College Captain, Sports Captain etc. Holding a leadership position shows that you are respected by your peers and/or teachers.
  2. Academic: Taking advanced or college level courses in your favorite subjects or participating in research. Working with qualified researchers and faculty. Differentiating yourself via competitive exams like math Olympiad, F1 contests etc.
  3. Sports:Excelling in any sport, basketball, soccer, martial arts, cricket etc. You should have done it consistently over several years. For example, if someone is a black belt in Judo, it means that they have invested 6+ years along with everything else that they have done. This shows a significant amount of effort and commitment.
  4. Music or Arts:If you have consistently participated in music contests, learnt an instrument or the theory of music (Solfege) it is interesting to admission officers. Likewise, for fine arts.
  5. Competitions: If you like participating in quizzes, debates, MUN’s and have won prizes at various levels, it helps your application.
  6. Community Service: Recognizing that many people are less privileged and relatively small efforts can have a positive impact on others is a sign of humility and responsibility. If you feel strongly about certain causes and have invested your time it would be of interest to the admission officers.

To summarize, any activity that you have pursued over a period and achieved some distinction in, is a part of you.  Extracurricular activities are not something you should pursue just for your admission applications. These activities help you become a well-rounded individual and prepare you for life.

 

About the Author: 

Vivek Bhandari is the Chief Executive and Co-founder of Scholarly.co. He is an engineer from IIT Delhi and an MBA from IIM Kolkata. Vivek has worked extensively in financial services, real estate and mortgages space in USA, Europe, and India.

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