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How important are extracurriculars?

LunaHuntLunaHunt Posts: 5Registered User New Member
edited June 2013 in College Admissions
When applying to colleges, how important are extracurriculars?

I am going to be a junior in hs next year, and am planning on:

speech & debate - grades 10,11,12 - congress chair grades 11 & 12
badminton team - grades 10, 12
volunteering club - grades 11,12 - president & founder
french club - grades 10,11,12
key club - grades 9, 10, 11, 12 - social committee grades 11,12

In addition, I want to have at least 200 hours of community service by the time I graduate. I currently have 100.

Are these extracurriculars just too much? Should I cut back on some of them? How much do colleges actually care about them?

If it is relevant, I haven't taken the SAT yet, but I have a 3.97 unweighted GPA.

Thank you to everyone!
Post edited by LunaHunt on

Replies to: How important are extracurriculars?

  • ienivsienivs Posts: 38Registered User Junior Member
    I believe college's prefer depth instead of breadth.

    If you can achieve depth in one while balancing 5, it would be great. They would be "too much" if you realize that you do not have time to focus on any while maintaining your grades.
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    It depends where you apply.

    There are about 2500 universities and four-year colleges in the U.S. Most of them aren't very selective; if you meet their academic standards for admission, you'll get in. A minority of colleges and universities--mostly the ones that garner all the attention on College Confidenital--get applications from more academically qualified applicants than they need to fill their entering class. These universities and colleges have to choose from among those applicants whom they'll accept and whom they'll pass over, and they can't choose on the basis of academic qualifications because they're all qualified. So one basis they use for their decisions is applicants' extracurricular achievements.

    But unless you're a recruited athlete or a celebrity (Emma Watson, Tavi Gevinson, etc.), your extracurricular activities will never be as important as your academic credentials (your transcript and your standardized test scores). If you don't have the academic chops, colleges are never going to get as far as looking at what you've done outside the classroom.

    Also, despite what people seem to think, colleges don't generally care how many "community service hours" an applicant has amassed. Your case may be different, however, since you also seem to have been highly involved with a service organization in your school. In your case, a tally of volunteer hours may lend some credibility to the club you've started.
  • mikemacmikemac Posts: 7,255Registered User Senior Member
    As pointed out in post #3, most colleges don't care about your ECs. So unless you're planning on applying to one that does, the things that you are doing are all laudable but will not affect your admissions.

    Except for the volunteering club you founded, much of what I see is member of this and that. So while they no doubt take up a lot of your time, this list is not going to impress adcoms at very selective colleges.

    The question about impressive ECs comes up regularly on the forum. There is a thread with several posts by Northstarmom, a Ivy alum interviewer, about what constitutes impressive ECs from the point of view of the most selective colleges. The post is at http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/what-my-chances/210497-those-ecs-weak-so-what-s-good.html

    As you will see from that link, at the most selective colleges they are looking for depth more than just participation. Stanford, for example, says
    Students often assume our primary concern is the number of activities in which one participates. In fact, an exceptional depth of experience in one or two activities may demonstrate your passion more than minimal participation in five or six clubs. We want to see the impact you have had on that club, in your school, or in the larger community, and we want to learn of the impact that experience has had on you.

    2 very interesting articles about ECs that stand out and how to get them (same author, different examples) are at How to Be Impressive and Save This Grind? While I don't agree with his rationale for why they work, take a look at these 2 articles and I think you'll get some original ideas.
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