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What 1-3 most important qualities are schools looking for with Extra Curriculars?

BktoNJBktoNJ 19 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Trying to weigh the value vs. cost of kid getting involved with more EC's at risk of grades. What's most important to schools regarding ECs?

S21 has been involved with music both in and out of school for a long time, tried sports but didn't stick to them as they interfered with instrument practice too much, has some service hours, some interesting summer experiences (international service and conservation) how important is it that he expand EC's this year--better to do more music (found a club at school?) or join something he's interested in like language club , cooking, outing, or both? Obviously more is better on a neutral scale but there are so many hours in a day that he can concentrate and be productive and it's real work for him to keep up his GPA.
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Replies to: What 1-3 most important qualities are schools looking for with Extra Curriculars?

  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1382 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Obviously more is better on a neutral scale
    not always true. Also, starting a club isn’t a big deal. Deep involvement with increasing level of responsibility is good.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6971 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No EC is worth more than GPA.
    Your student should do what they love, which sounds like music. More is not better.
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  • BktoNJBktoNJ 19 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Eeyore123 I'm surprised to hear starting a club is not a big deal as it seems to show leadership and initiative. The few info sessions we've been to all or nearly all spoke about appending an "activities resume" to the common app since the app only allowed for 10 spaces. I took from that that all things being equal, the kid with a robust EC resume would be preferred to one who did only a couple of things and didn't show leadership or initiative.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6971 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your student can show leadership within their existing music ECs.

    For example, when my D was in HS, she accompanied the concert choir, played at school events, and eventually led the music rehearsals for the school musicals. She worked closely with the directors and had a strong leadership role in the school's theater program. Other friends volunteered to give music lessons at the city's summer program for kids to young to be home alone. There are lots of ways of taking your passions and finding ways to shine.
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  • BktoNJBktoNJ 19 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @momofsenior1 Agree, there are lots of ways to show initiative. So far my kid doesn't on his "activities resume" and I'm wondering how hard to push/motivate him on this.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77702 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Depends on the college how ECs are considered. But agree with a previous comment that academics are generally more important for college admissions (main exception is if the EC is athletic achievement that gets recruiting interest).

    Obviously, higher achievement in the EC helps. E.g. a state or national level award or recognition means more than just starting a school club with three members whose activity is mainly assigning themselves leadership positions for college applications.

    But types of ECs can be criticized no matter how you look at it:

    * Concentrated in area of intended major => too one dimensional or unilateral.
    * Concentrated somewhere else => inconsistent with intended major.
    * Varied => too scattered, not a consistent story.
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  • CU123CU123 3540 replies65 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Academics are important, but EC's are what tend to differentiate those with top academic resumes. There are too many kids out there that take on rigorous academic schedules and get straight A's along with having some amount of depth into there EC's. Academics are the starting point but its what you do beyond that which will make a difference.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77702 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ECs can often be looked at as tiebreakers between those with similar academic credentials. But the most selective colleges typically have lots of applicants "tied at the top" of the usual academic measures, so ECs' importance gets magnified there. But those without top end academic credentials will be at a severe disadvantage in the admission competition there.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1382 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 20
    @BktoNJ having a baby is easy. Raising a child into adulthood is difficult. It doesn’t matter if it is biologically yours or it adopted. The same works for ECs.
    edited August 20
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6971 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    May I ask what year your student is in? Mine had zero in terms of leadership until junior year and then really bloomed as a senior. It's something that happened very organically.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3951 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 20
    The key is balance. More is not better in fact I would say it's worse. Do something "consistently" for 2-4 years. Shows dedication. If you have 2 things then that's usually enough. Only do things you enjoyed. Huge mistake to guess what colleges want to see.
    My son started a fun club in high school. This carried over to college with 1,500 clubs and he couldn't find something that interested him. So.. He started a club that snow balled into massive opportunity at a big ten school. College's "might" assume if you are active in high school you "might" "continue to be active in college. You are part of their community. Colleges want thriving communities and students that make them that way. You can spin" leadership with just about any activity you do.
    edited August 20
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5580 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The important thing is for your son to be engaged in a way that's meaningful to him. I think "leadership ", in the sense of leading others is over-rated in the minds of applicants and that AOs would rather see students who can follow their own leadings. If your son is interested in playing a certain kind of music, he can join a group to do it, persuade the current group to do it, or start a group that does it. If he wants to give back, he can teach others to play or he can perform for people who will get joy from it. He can use music to connect with others. I think it matters less what it is and more that a student takes the initiative and can articulate what drove them to do so. It shouldn't be about more or what it looks like, but a genuine expression of himself.

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  • BktoNJBktoNJ 19 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @momofsenior1 he's a rising junior.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22666 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    When I was in high school, about 10 boys in my class formed a Soccer Club. Our school didn't have soccer teams (long time ago). This club had nothing to do with soccer but was a beer drinking club. I think they claimed they got together to follow soccer teams in Europe or SA. That wouldn't have been easy to do in the middle of Wisconsin long before ESPN or national sports newspapers. They had officers and got a picture in the yearbook. Now these weren't uninvolved kids. One was president of our class, others were top students or athletes in other sports. They started it as a joke and just kept it going. For YEARS.

    If students started 2-3 new clubs every year, soon schools would have more clubs than students. I don't remember my kids joining any clubs in high school that were new. All their clubs, and they weren't in that many, had been around for a while and usually had a connection to a bigger entity, like Best Buddies or Relay for Life. Some student may have organized the group at the high school, but people weren't just starting a club from the ground up (like Soccer Club!).
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33480 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    First, you'd better start identifying potential college targets and finding what matters to them. Some won't care as much about ECs, as long as he comes across as an engaged sort.

    Founding a club is too often cuz a kid can't recognize the valid opportunities already around him. Agree with GSL that leadership isn't about "titles."

    I boil it down to ECs in 3 areas: personal interests (music, hobbies, things that relate to his major. Then things with peers and groups (hs clubs, your religious or cultural identity, music groups, an academic team, whatever.) Then true community service. To me, this forms a nice balance. Top colleges like the right balance.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3951 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    So my son's school was highly academic and these kids had ecs and things like math peer tutoring and whatever honors club, Chess Varsity team etc. So I disagree about finding or using what your school has. My sons school had a lot of clubs but his "group" wanted to do something new but fun was the key since they had high level academics.
    One club was just playing board games... So you say big deal. Well every week someone had to bring in a different game that wasn't typically known from like a different country/region and teach it to the group. Many kids from different countries at his school
    Some kids would just play Magic while the others would play this new game then switch. This was a huge hit. They gave it a cool name. They also attempted to have food delivered that matched the country.. That kinda worked. That was for one semester. The spin was learning about different cultures, food and board games that challenged them or something like that.
    The other "fun" group was to go to a new group at school every week to try something new and their food that they had (think lots of pizza). It was sorta a joke at first but they actually went one week to a dance club and actually learned a new dance then next week to something else and so on. They had a riot with this. Their spin on this was that they challenged themselves weekly to try something new and get out of their comfort zone, which would be important to colleges.
    These kids were accepted to Michigan, UIUC , Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Northwestern, University of Chicago, DePaul, IIT etc.
    I will admit these kids had other Ecs but you don't always have to join the status quo and can always try something new for the fun of it. Sometimes creativity works.

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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1344 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Interesting, long term and deeply committed. It doesn't matter if it's studying ants or creating a loom, it should be something you like to do. There are hundreds of thousands of kids listing the same things. Does you resume match someone else's? Then why would the school accept you over them? Starting a club, raising $ for water or whatever flavor of the year is popular is going to bore the AO. Creating something unique or doing something unique is what matters. Look at the chance me threads, most are the same.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3951 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Totally agree with the above. Do something you like and if it's personal and different and interesting or unique (like your essay should be.. Lol.)all the better.
    One of my son's Ecs was track but doing shot put /throw to get out of gym class and enabled him to take another academic class... Lol.
    He ended up really liking it and every year made his personal best. On one essay or information to the college he let them know that every year he was determined to improve and do better every year. And he did and let them know about it. He combined this with increasing AP classes yearly to challenge himself. So not just challenging in the classroom but in everything he does like Chess also. Now that makes a make up or impression for the AO that this kid is going to go for it and not give up when classes get hard etc (also stated somewhere) . So a shot putting, Math peer tutoring, engineering kid that plays chess on varsity somehow stood out. But his essay made him really stand out and more unique also but tied back into who he truly is.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33480 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well, just do what you like and they pick the kids THEY like. Pays to know enough about the college to know what matters.

    If they want engaged and willing to try new things (that aren't limited to what you pre-decided interest you,) then why not try? CYA. Don't over-estimate their interest in different.
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  • mikemacmikemac 10303 replies150 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 22
    some interesting summer experiences (international service and conservation)
    I hope these aren't the programs where parents pay to send their children to "volunteer" abroad.

    Some parents think these will convince colleges how public spirited and giving their kid is, plus it's a "unique" experience to help them stand out from the other kids.

    Companies love to sell trips to these parents, it's a profitable business.

    Adcoms see them as a sham; if a kid wants to make a genuine difference they'd volunteer regularly in their community to help out with ongoing problems, not take part in short program abroad that comes packaged with plenty of fun labeled as "cultural exposure" or whatever. Adcoms also see them as a marker of high disposable income; if you're a college looking for full-pay students then seeing these on the app is a good sign the parents can pay whatever is asked.
    edited August 22
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