The "Best" Extracurricular Activities

Published: February 1, 2016 

Category: Blog Written by CLC College Prep

Students and parents often ask “which extracurricular activities do colleges like best?”

The answer surprises many: the ‘best’ extracurricular activity is one that a student sincerely enjoys, rather than one chosen simply because it might appeal to college admissions officers.

When college admissions officers turn to the activities section of a student’s application, they aren’t looking for a list of specific activities. Instead, what they’re looking for is a sense of who the student is as a person. How does this student choose to spend his free time? What interests the student the most? What talents and skills will this individual bring to our campus?

Authenticity matters. Students who chase after titles or accolades just to satisfy some imaginary college admissions checklist are doing themselves a disservice. Colleges receive thousands of applications from high school newspaper editors, student body presidents, band members, community volunteers and athletes. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing any of these activities, of course, but if the main reason you’re participating is because you (or your parents) have heard that admissions officers like to see a particular activity on college applications, you’re probably not showing your true self to colleges. And, ultimately, that’s what colleges are looking for when they read your application: you.

The ‘best’ extracurricular activities, therefore, will vary for each student. One student might have a passion for sports, while another loves nothing more than reading and writing poetry in their spare time. Both can be great ways to spend your time and be of interest to a college admissions committee --- but only if they truly interest you. Sometimes, finding the activities that most excite you takes time. That’s OK; high school should be a time for exploration. If you start off freshman year thinking you’d like to write for the school newspaper then discover in junior year that you have a passion for acting, go ahead and give the Drama Club a try. The key is to pursue activities that you honestly enjoy; those are the activities that will give an admissions committee a hint of who you really are.

Students and parents also wonder how many extracurricular activities colleges expect students to participate in. Is your strength as an applicant measured by how many activities you do? Simply put: no. While colleges prefer students who do more with their spare time than just study or play video games, admissions committees don’t tally the number of activities an applicant participates in so much as the depth of participation. The student who joins ten different activities, but only puts token time and effort into each of them, is less interesting to an admissions committee than the student who only does a single activity, but loves it so much that he devotes most of his free time to it. So, think quality of participation not quantity when deciding on how to spend your time.

Finally, don’t forget that extracurricular activities – no matter how impressive - never trump an applicant’s grades, course selection, and test scores. While it’s important to find and pursue activities that interest you, school work should always be your first priority. First and foremost, colleges are looking for applicants who have shown they’re ready for college-level academic work. An impressive extracurricular resume is just icing on the cake for an applicant who has been successful in the classroom.

Athletes and College Recruiting

Published: January 25, 2016 

Category: Blog Written by CLC College Prep

Thinking about playing your chosen sport in college? Are you wondering how to make your current involvement in athletics enhance your chances of admission? Here are some guidelines for prospective college athletes.

  • Choose a college by following the “broken leg” rule. It’s simple—if you were unable to compete there, would you still want to attend that college? If not, that school should not be on your short list.
  • Earn the best grades that you can. Although you may receive letters of interest from very selective colleges, they will not continue in the recruiting process unless they feel you can be competitive academically as well as on the playing field. SAT and/or ACT scores are also critical for these institutions. At highly selective colleges, the required GPA and scores will be far above the NCAA eligibility requirements.
  • Be realistic. Ask your coach for his/her honest assessment of your ability to play in Division I, II or III. Check out times or stats of players at the colleges that are of interest to you.
  • Be proactive. Start the process early. Research colleges that meet your criteria both for athletics and academics. Include schools with sports teams from at least two different divisions. Complete prospective athlete forms on the athletics area of college websites. E-mail appropriate coaches expressing your interest in their program.
  • Market yourself. Don’t count on colleges finding you. Make yourself visible by playing at regional events and showcases. Make unofficial visits to campuses that interest you. Contact the coaches ahead of time and ask if you could meet with them while you’re on campus.
  • Register on the NCAA Clearinghouse website by the end of your junior year. 

For more information on how CLC College Prep Services helps guide athletes through the recruiting and admission process, contact Calli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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