We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
High schoolers know they have to get good grades to get into college, but admissions boards look for more than just straight A’s. They want future students who multitask to improve their self-development and their community. These are the nine best extracurriculars for college that every student should consider.
It’s never too late to get started with activities outside of school. First-year students and rising seniors can try these extracurriculars to discover new hobbies and friends while building an impressive personal history for their college applications.
1. Leadership Positions in Any Club
Universities teach many future world leaders and innovators. They want applicants to have the drive to achieve more for themselves and change the world. Leadership positions look great on any college application. They demonstrate commitment and a great work ethic, plus the respect of your peers. It’s even better if you’ve been in that leadership position for more than a semester.
Leadership experience does more than add to your college application, as well — it provides you with essential leadership skills and helps you develop an influential leadership mindset, which you will carry with you into your future career.
2. Participation in Sports
Athletes also develop a healthy sense of drive and teamwork, making campuses a better place for students. Those skills reflect in classroom participation and assist them with their careers.
Colleges also need new students to have athletic skills to support their teams. Universities like Texas A&M and the University of Texas make $180 million annually from their Division I athletic departments. They’re more likely to accept students with great grades and athletic skills because they would give back to the university that helps them reach their full potential.
3. Memberships in Academic Clubs
Universities want to admit students who stay there until graduation. Applicants can say they’re interested in biology or arts degrees, but memberships in related academic clubs demonstrate that interest. It shows that you’re committed to your future and want to learn more about your career even when you’re not sitting in class.
4. Steady Local Employment
You might not think to put job experience on a university application, but it’s one of the best extracurriculars for college. People can only hold down jobs when they’re responsible, a successful part of the team, and willing to learn. These are all valuable skills to already have when entering college.
Get started on your resume sooner than later. Apply for local restaurant jobs or consider a position in retail to learn about time management and communication. You’ll spend less time figuring out how to succeed in college and more time enjoying your new place within campus life.
5. Various Creative Pursuits
It’s crucial to focus on your schoolwork, clubs, and employment, but you should also learn when to invest in yourself. Creative pursuits prove that you can balance your personal and academic interests. Admissions boards value students who push outside of their comfort zones. Have fun trying new things so you can include them in your future applications.
6. Activities for Technological Skills
Technology continues to shape the future. Universities hope for graduates that change the world, which means that extracurricular activities with technological skills are more critical than ever. Joining a unique tech club or community organization makes your application stand out and promises that you’ll enter with a solid foundation for your upcoming career,
7. Meaningful Travel Experiences
The world is deeply interconnected. Industries at home rely on industries abroad to continue cultural advancement. Adding meaningful travel experiences to your applications proves that you’re open to new ideas. Family vacations don’t hold the same meaning as volunteering to build homes for people in need in another country or repairing a different community after a natural disaster.
Travel experiences also present the possibility that you might join a study abroad program to enrich your college experience. Schools benefit when these programs expand due to increased interest. As long as you’ve traveled to help others or work with a team, it’s likely a good idea to include it in your college applications.
8. Committed Political Activism
Political activism is another way to change the world. More than 30% of young people described themselves as politically engaged leading up to the 2020 election. Working towards positive change outside of your school is an excellent addition to any application.
Volunteer in local elections or organize peaceful rallies. Hand out flyers for your favorite candidates or sign up voters by going door to door. Participating or leading these efforts shows how you care about your community and give back to the world.
9. Involvement With School Teams
Join the debate team or spelling competition team before graduating high school. They may not directly relate to your future college degree, but they’re another way to work on team skills and manage your time. Supporting others while chasing your goals is a skill every person needs to maintain a healthy balance.
Participate in the Best Extracurriculars for College
These are nine of the best extracurriculars for college, so consider participating in them during any part of your high school experience. You’ll gain skills that benefit your application and make you more successful. Learn what you love so you can enter your favorite university with a better idea of what you want to do with your future.