Choosing Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities ensure that your school life isn't solely academic, and provides the opportunity to develop into a socially well-adapted individual. In the world of college admissions, extracurriculars are more than just what you do to kill time between classes ended and going home. The extracurricular activities that you choose to participate in in high school are very crucial and they can have great influence on your college applications.
That being said, here are a few things to consider when choosing extracurricular activities:
Start by creating or finding a list of all the extracurricular activities being offered at your school (some schools will already have this list in their school manual or on the school's website). This will allow you to have a bird's eye view of all the possibilities available, and might direct you to something that you never even consider as an area of interest to you.
But extracurriculars don't end with what's available at your high school. Remember an extracurricular is any "formal" activity that you choose to do during a set time period outside of your academic class schedule. Don't be afraid to look outside of your comfort zone, and research activities that may be available at other schools or activities that aren't affiliated with school at all. From your research, you can create a comprehensive list of extracurriculars and begin to make well-informed decisions.
  • In School Clubs / Organizations: Drama Club, Art Club, Debate Club, Robotics Club, Tourism Action Club, Key Club, etc.
  • In School Sports: Football, Soccer, Tennis, Swimming, Basketball, Track & Field
  • Out of School Sports: Dance, Club Sports
  • Out of School Activities: Music (Instrument) Lessons, Community Outreach Club
  • Volunteer Work: Volunteering at Animal Shelters, Old Age Homes, Schools for the Disabled, Food Kitchens, Medical Clinics
  • Independent Projects: Research with a University / Industry Leader, Learning a Skill On Your Own (Knitting, Coding, etc.), Non-Academic Online Courses, Hosting a Podcast, Having a YouTube Channel
By now, you have a good enough idea of your likes and dislikes. Even if not specifically, you have a general idea of what you like to do and what you don't. For example, you know you like activities that are geared towards community outreach, but sports are just not your thing. That awareness is very important as it gives you direction and narrows your choices a bit, helping to make your decision easier.

If you haven't quite figured out your likes and dislikes yet, that's also quite fine. That allows for a whole other exciting journey of exploration and self-discovery. Don't be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone to find something that both excites you and contributes to your personal development in a meaningful way.
The most important thing to keep in mind as you choose your extracurricular activities is DOES THIS INTEREST ME? You want to be using your time to pursue things of genuine passion and interest. Activities that will help you decide on your career goal or provide an outlet for a non-academic passion. What you don't want to do is participate in meaningless activities just for the sake of activity hours and "participation". If you can't describe fully what your role is in the extracurricular activity... then maybe you should consider finding something else to use that time for.
These are future forming years, so for your own sake, it's best to be deliberate in your choices. What does that mean? It means choosing activities that not only allow you to have fun but will also positively impact the vision that you have for your life. If you intend on pursuing law, join the Debating Society and if you wish to get into politics, Student Representation might be the avenue for you.
Remember though, that the purpose of extracurricular activities, especially within the context of college application, is to provide well-roundedness, so don't be afraid to mix it up and ensure that you're having truck loads of fun!
Need help in strategizing your extracurricular involvement? It might be time to join one of AIM's College Prep programs today! The first step is always an Initial Strategy Session (where we will definitely discuss extracurricular planning).
Author: AIM Online Academy
AIM Online Academy (was AIM Educational Services) is the leading college prep provider in Jamaica, that helps students maximize their potential as they make the journey towards college in the US, UK and Canada. For over a decade, AIM's team of College Experts & Essay Coaches have assisted students from all over the Caribbean, the USA and Canada get into the college of their dreams with enough scholarship and financial aid to actually attend.

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