Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities that Interest You
Selective colleges in the United States are interested in more than just the classes you took in high school and the scores that you got on your standardized tests. Looking at a lot of scores is valuable, but colleges want to get a better idea of who an applicant is as a person. One way they can do this is by looking at the sorts of extracurricular activities in which you have been active. A collection of interesting extracurricular activities can really help a college admissions board get a better idea of what kind of person you are.
What is an Extracurricular Activity?
An extracurricular activity can be an activity performed outside of class that has had some educational value to you. Many extracurricular activities may be sponsored by your high school, such as taking part in organized sports or a school music program. Many schools also have dramatic activities in which students put on plays as well as number of clubs centered around some shared interest. However, an extracurricular activity does not necessarily have to be a school-sponsored activity. Even if you never joined the football team or played in the school band, you may have engaged in all kinds of extracurricular activities that had no relation with your high school. These include: activities organized through your community, rather than your school; special hobbies to which you have devoted a lot of time, particularly if they involved learning to do or make something (studying martial arts, building kites, making clothes), volunteer work, especially work done for charity.
Is Employment (Working a Job for Pay) Considered an Extracurricular Activity?
Traditionally, paid labor is not considered an extracurricular activity, even though you may have learned some really valuable skills while working. If you have done paid work that you believe really sets you apart, especially if your job is somehow related to a field that you are interested in. If you would like to mention paid employment in your application, you could perhaps mention it in a personal essay, explaining how it was valuable to you. This might be especially appropriate if you needed to make money at a job for special purpose, like saving money for school.
Do You Need to Be the Leader of Every Club and Activity that You Join?
While colleges do like to see students that show leadership abilities, this does not mean that you should try to join clubs, groups, sports teams and so on with the sole purpose of becoming the leader just so that you can mention this on your college application. You should choose to engage in extracurricular activities that actually have some personal meaning to you. If you become the leader of one group that you really love and do a lot of work with that group and then write about it in your application, this may be more impressive than if you become the leader of half a dozen groups that never really accomplish anything.