We all know that GPAs and SAT scores play a huge role in college applications. What we may not know is that a child’s achievements outside the classroom are just as important as the perfect 1600 or a straight-A report card. With the college admissions race becoming fiercer every year, admissions officers are looking for candidates who are not only bright, but also partake and show interests in the non-academic environment.
Extracurriculars display a student’s desire to pursue interests outside of a standardized academic context. Many admissions officers look for a correlation between academic passions and outside activity. A student with a flair for mathematics, for example, might be a member of the school’s math olympic team. This decision could explain their choice to pursue a degree in mathematics in higher education and again, show they are serious about their interests.
Furthermore, students can also use these activities to explore interests they’ve never encountered, exposing them to a more diverse range of interests. This is also beneficial for a student’s college application as it lets officers see that the student is open-minded to new experiences.
Many colleges love students who demonstrate leadership qualities, and extracurriculars are a great way to exemplify these characteristics in your child. Students who are able to balance earning the respect of their peers outside of school, while maintaining good grades, exhibit maturity and a sense of social responsibility. If your child has the opportunity and drive to be the captain of the tennis team or president of the science club, let them seize the opportunity!
But keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. If your child is struggling academically, a long list of extracurriculars can be more harmful than beneficial. If this is the case, they may need to let go of some of these activities. Extracurriculars are important, but don’t force your child to join every club and sport. Though you have the best intentions, doing this can overwhelm your child and restrict him or her from enjoying their true interests. A college application that displays scattered involvement throughout high school represents ingenuity. Joining in many things, but not following through, gives admissions officers the indication that one only participated to fill their application. On the other hand, a student who plays basketball and writes for the school newspaper, but kept with it all four years, shows long-term commitment and strong passion for what they do – characteristics that colleges value. Find what sparks your child’s interest and have them stick with it. W