Today, prospective students are required to provide a lot of information on a college application. This is no longer restricted to personal data and academics, but also information on activities outside the classroom.
These activities are called Extra-curricular activities (ECA) and were always an important requirement for admissions to colleges outside India, and recently many Indian Universities have also started looking for them, in student’s applications.
Students should make a list of all their activities – sports teams, school projects, online courses, and any community service that they have taken part in.
So, let’s look at why it’s important to include extracurricular activities on a college application.
Take this example: A student writes on her college application that she is a member of the young entrepreneur’s club at her school. She explains that she led a group of four students in creating several successful marketing strategies for a new fashion accessory sold to students at her school. When a college admissions officer sees this information on her application, they will note this student’s strong leadership skills. A student who takes on the responsibility in a group is seen as an appealing student for admittance to a college. High school students may want to keep this in mind as they think of extracurriculars for college applications.
Interest in a Variety of Activities
A college admissions officer looks at the variety of extracurricular activities on a student’s application as well as the number of activities. For instance, a high school student may list that he is in the Math club, plays the guitar in school, works as a set designer in theatre class, and volunteers as a teacher at a NGO-run school. When a student participates in a wide variety of activities, it shows that the student is willing to try new things and has a broad range of interests. Not surprisingly, admissions officers want the most promising students to attend their college.
Example: On the activities page of the admission application, Student A says that he was a member of the art class, and in the description says that the class is for students who are passionate about having a career involving art. He also volunteered once a month, teaching a one-hour art class at his school.
Student B is also in the art class at her school. In the description, she tells how she helped grow the class from 4 to 20 members, ran several charity projects that raised over Rs.5,000 for art programs and arranged an informational event to help raise awareness of the importance of art in people’s lives.
Which student do you think is most likely to be admitted? As it turns out, what you do is not nearly as important as why and how you are doing it.
A prospective student who participates in community activities will likely get the attention of a college admissions officer. A student who joins a group that helps / works with senior citizens with very few resources is working for the betterment of their community. A student who organises a group of peers to help spread awareness about plastic usage is also showing great community spirit. College admissions officers like to see students who take initiative to organize or participate in activities that benefit their own communities. This shows responsibility and a concern for the welfare of others.
The Ability to Work with Others
Many college students list the sports teams that they are involved with on their applications for college. Extracurricular activities such as sports demonstrate a student’s ability to work with other people toward a common objective. This quality can help a student to successfully work with others on projects and assignments in college classes. Also, if the student’s team won a particular championship or achieved a great honour, the admissions officer takes note of the person’s dedication to the team. More than anything else, playing a sport also points to qualities like perseverance and commitment.
Extracurricular activities of all kinds can help a student to show off their best. Almost anything that you are actively and productively involved in can be considered an extracurricular activity.
It is also ok if you do just one or two activities but then ensure that you do it in depth. What’s important is to highlight & explain why you’re involved in the activity.