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Extracurriculars Tip #2

Here’s a tip about extracurriculars that’s related to an earlier posting. It’s for you younger high school students. If you’re application-minded, you may already be thinking about extracurriculars and how many you should have on your Common App. People will talk about a certain number you need, and about how a good balance of different types of activities is a must.

The idea that extracurriculars are themselves an important part of your application is correct. But because students have, in a way, more control over what they sign up for than they do their grades, the activities section of the Common App begins to exert an unreasonable amount of control over high school schedules. Many students plan their whole high school careers around filling out an impressive (and in some cases insane or incredible) schedule of activities.

Don’t listen to the hype. Don’t let the Common App control how you spend your time outside of class in high school. Do get involved in some clubs, sports, or other activities, but don’t ever sign up for one because you want it to be on your applications.

Admissions officers want to see that you were engaged in your high school, beyond the minimum of attending six classes a day, and also that you have interests that aren’t explicitly academic. But they don’t want to see a list that looks unrealisitic and contrived. In fact, this can count against you. It’s much better to have a well-ordered list of a reasonable number of extracurricular activities.

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