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How to Choose the Best Extracurricular Activities During High School

In the college admissions process, test scores, grades, and academic records are steadfast pillars of measure. But students also have a few opportunities to come off of the paper and out of the numbers. Adding dimension to applications will create a more memorable applicant.

While essays and interviews demonstrate writing talent and personality, extracurriculars (ECs) have the potential to illustrate certain qualities and skills. Here are a two points that admissions counselors are thinking when they see a list of ECs:

Qualities over Quantity: What qualities do these activities show?

The number one question for parents and students is whether participating in a few or in many ECs is better. Quality — or quantity?

Participating in numerous ECs can show a wide-range of interests and the willingness to try new challenges. But students who have core interests and progress within those interests stand out more. Remember: counselors are looking at ECs not only to see that a person is active outside of the classroom, but to see what qualities come through.

A long list of activities that each last a semester will not stand out as much as a solid group of activities that continues over a few years. That continuity in itself shows dedication. Moving into leadership positions – becoming captain of a team after three years, organizing a book drive after working at a library – shows perseverance, improvement, and initiative. Progression in a few ECs will make students stand out more than a list of twelve short-term activities.

How do these activities translate into becoming a successful student at their school?

Colleges are interested in recruiting students who not only performed excellently in high school, but who will do well in college. The qualities that students demonstrate in ECs – perseverance, leadership, initiative – are qualities an admissions counselor can see translating into college endeavors, internships, research and even future professional work.

While students and parents might see ECs as a way to gain acceptance into a competitive school or to receive a scholarship, admissions counselors are also looking for qualities that will produce a future alumnus/a of their college who will play an active role in a community, corporation, foundation, or other entity.

Chosen well, the participation and challenges of ECs are not just for gaining acceptance into a school, but a foundation for future leadership and intellectual endeavors. Admissions counselors recognize and seek such qualities in ECs.

Top Test Prep provides expert admissions counseling to help students gain admission to the best schools. For more expert admissions advice, contact Top Test Prep today by calling (800) 501-7737 or visit TopTestPrep.com.

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