Stand Out: How to Choose the Best Extracurriculars for Your College Application

by Dec 4, 20200 comments

As we have written about before, college applications can be daunting and difficult to fill out. It can be almost impossible to know what colleges and universities are looking for when you are applying. This makes crafting a unique pitch that sells you at your best all the more important. Aside from your marks, SAT scores, and essay, one of the biggest ways to stand out from the crowd is through your extracurricular activities. But how do you choose what to do? There are lots of activities available to participate in, and doing them all is just not possible. Here is how to chose the best extracurriculars for a college application:

How To Approach Extracurriculars

A player celebrates during a high school soccer game. Sport is an important extracurricular that can display many things to an admissions officer.


Colleges are looking for you to be involved in activities that you enjoy doing. Therefore, the more passionate you are about the activity, the better it will reflect in your application and any interviews. Admissions officers have seen it all. They will know when you have chosen an activity just because you think it will look good on your application.

Leadership & Impact

How did you affect your extracurricular? Did you lead the team or club to something it had never done before? Have you increased membership? Did you find funding to let the group do something it had never done before? Colleges will be looking for leaders and difference-makers – people who are ready and willing to take on a challenge. These are the people who can solve the problems they face without being forced to. Any extracurricular that demonstrates this will look great on a college application.

A teacher sits on a desk at the front of a classroom, while two students present next to him on the blackboard in an extracurricular science club.


Finally, your commitment to your extracurriculars matters. It’s all well and good that you joined the choir, or signed up to do community service at the SPCA, but if you only managed to do those activities for a couple of weeks or months it doesn’t reflect well on your ability to follow through on the commitments you make. Being reliable can also help show your passion for your extracurriculars.

With these attributes in mind, let’s take a look at the four types of extracurricular activity. These are the types you should try to cover when deciding how to divide up your time:

Types of Activities:


With this activity, you can show interest in what you intend to study. For instance, if you have a school newspaper, you can show your desire to study journalism by writing articles for it. Or if Maths is your desired course of study, you can do the Maths Olympiad. These extracurriculars will help with college applications by ensuring admissions officers that you are serious about studying.

A high school quiz bowl team from Needham poses behind their panel desk. Quiz Bowl and Maths Olympiads are the best extracurriculars to show your interest in Mathematics and your commitment to clubs.

The athletic activity can easily show your commitment. If you aren’t primarily an athlete, playing several years of sport in the B or C team can show you chose an activity you enjoyed, and that you stuck with it. Remember, it’s not about excelling at every extracurricular you participate in. You can still make an impact by being invested and reliable.


Doing substantial hours of community service is not only a great and fulfilling way to give back to your community, it also shows colleges that you apply to that you are an aspiring leader with a desire to change the world for the better. There are so many ways you can do community service. Volunteering, raising money, providing help for at-risk or in-need people in your community, or even organizing drives for necessary items among the students at your school.

A group of high school children hold sheet music and laugh in a music room. Guitars are hanging on the wall in the background. The choir is a great extracurricular to put on your college application that displays your love and affinity for music.

This activity will show the admissions officers what you love, or what you are like as a person. College admissions officers will appreciate the chance to see what you love to do, whether it’s a cultural activity like joining the choir, or the debate team, or something you’re really interested in doing, like the Robotics Club, . Colleges appreciate the chance to see the person behind the application. The personality activity can help paint a picture of you that your marks and resume cannot do on their own. This type of extracurricular can show your creativity and ability in areas that aren’t included on the rest of your resume.

At the end of the day, colleges are looking at your extracurriculars to see if you would fit in at their college. The extracurricular activities you choose are going to show anyone who sees your resume what you will add to college life outside of academics – an important aspect to any college application. There are so many options for you to choose from – and if what you’re looking for doesn’t exist, you can start your own club to fill the gap! There is no one answer to selecting the best extracurriculars for a college application – make sure to choose based on what matters most to you.

Remember, it’s always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!


What You Can Expect to Pay at Ivy League Universities

What You Can Expect to Pay at Ivy League Universities

At some point, every international student has dreamt of attending a prestigious university such as an Ivy League school in the USA. But it’s no secret that attending college in another country can be super expensive, especially if it is a private non-profit...

How to Ace Your College Interview

How to Ace Your College Interview

Applying for college is a huge task. It involves all sorts of things like writing standardized tests - the SAT or the ACT - gathering your reports, filling out long applications, getting testimonials from teachers and peers, and writing essays. If you're trying to win...

Understanding GPA in South Africa

Understanding GPA in South Africa

Studying in the USA can be confusing, daunting, and sometimes scary. This is especially true if you have to convert all your report cards and grades into the American GPA format. What does GPA mean? How it is calculated? How does it compare to the South African high...