We hear this question often—many times from students who have come to view the college application process as an exercise in spinning themselves into something they think a college wants, rather than an opportunity to exhibit who they really are and where their interests lie.
The temptation to “amass” a long list of activities won’t help you get into the college of your choice. College admission officers are interested in reading and seeing meaningful engagement from students in what they do outside of school. They are quite capable of distinguishing between the student who does “stuff” just because and the student who does “stuff” because they love what they do.
Here is a short list on how to find an activity that shines a light on what you love.
1. Be yourself. Colleges are looking for students that bring a variety of perspectives to their campus. If you’re not interested in sports, student council, or some other typical extracurricular activity, don’t worry. Colleges are just as interested in the student filmmaker or poetry club founder as they are in the football player or student body president. Demonstrate a deep and consistent commitment and admissions officers will take notice, whatever the activity.
2. Go deep. Assuming a leadership role, participating extensively (10-20 hours per week) in one or two pursuits will always outshine other applicants who merely dabble (an hour here, an hour there) in several or more activities. If you want to have an impact, find your niche, and improve your college admissions prospects in the process.
3. Use your summer. Do you want to show colleges that you are serious about your extracurricular pursuits? Then use your summer to secure an internship, take a class, or enroll in a camp that will allow you to further explore your interests outside the classroom. There is no better way to impress an admissions rep than use your vacation to better yourself.
4. You CAN make money. Perhaps more than anything else, having a job demonstrates to an admissions committee that you are mature, practical, and ready to take on the responsibilities associated with adulthood. If you can get a job in your area of interest, great; if you can’t, get one anyway.
What you do is not about building a resume to get into college; it’s about finding yourself and showing the admissions rep your passions (at least now). Strive for authenticity and a good fit college will be in your future. Besides you’ll have plenty of time to build a career resume later. If you need help finding something to do, give us a call, we have a lot of ideas to share.