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What can homeschoolers do for extracurricular activities?

writebrainedwritebrained 8 replies1 threads New Member
edited February 2005 in Home Schooling and College
Hi, I'm a 10th grade homeschooled student. I have been doing everything that seems necessary to prepare for college... except in the area of outside activities. My courseload is heavy, and I use mostly college level books. I'll be taking AP classes in 11th and 12th grade. I took the SAT last June and scored 800 verbal, 660 math. But I haven't done anything outside my house for the past year.

I've been very busy on my own. I love to write, and I've been working on a novel. I'm taking a distance learning course on writing for children, and I have several stories and poems which I am currently trying to submit to magazines and contests. I have plans to enter contests in other areas as well. I am also creating my own website, and I do quite a bit of art (mostly drawing). But my mom says that this isn't really enough. She thinks I should get involved in some activities outside the home. She's suggested volunteering, getting a job (perhaps over the summer in my aunt's office), taking art classes or community college classes, and going to a summer camp.
I do see her point - I need to do something outside the house. But what will impress colleges the most? And are there other things I could try besides what my mom suggested? I don't want to join a million things for the sake of joining; I'd rather be involved in one thing that I really cared about than ten I was doing because "they'll look good for college".
edited February 2005
21 replies
Post edited by writebrained on
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Replies to: What can homeschoolers do for extracurricular activities?

  • angrodangrod 119 replies0 threads Junior Member
    First off, I love your name. Second, it is hard for me to advise you, since I am definitely more left brained. Getting a job might be a good idea, but if you don't need the money and it is not in something very interesting, you might want to focus on something else. I would highly recommend taking community college/university classes. They can open up many opportunities as you get to know professors who can write recommendations for you and even give you research opportunities. Volunteering is always good, but I think you are exactly right-"don't join a million things just for the sake of joining." Do something you have a passion in. Surely there must be some kind of writing or drawing clubs or activities you could get involved in, and if there are not, maybe you could start some! (It is hard for me to know, since I personally shirk writing like the plague, and can barely piece together a stick man.) Good luck!
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  • texas137texas137 2086 replies57 threads Senior Member
    all of angrod'ssuggestions are good. Really, it depends on your interests. Pick things that you would enjoy, and which complement your strengths, and not just things you are joining for the sake of joining. A community based book club, theater group, or writing workshop might be fun. But I agree with your mom - you need to do something that involves interaction with people outside your family. You don't want colleges to worry that you might be some social misfit who has spent your homeschooling career locked in the basement. You will also need people outside your family who know you well enough to write recommendations.
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  • reasonabledadreasonabledad 847 replies38 threads Member
    Taking some college classes is a really good idea for the reasons mentioned: research and recommendations (also just to grow as an individual and to establsih a 3rd party transcript). Most colleges are looking for evidence of "leadership" which could include organizing and motivating a peer group to do something useful for your community. Also, things that show "intellectual vitality" are important, so perhaps you could find a way to get some of your writing published? You don't mention sports, but if you are interested, this is also a good social outlet in consideration of Texas137's point. Dance is another outlet of this type that shows you as being socially at ease.

    You don't mention mention much about math/science, but if this is an interest, ask Texas137 for advice on this subject. He is the top brain on CC for contests, competitions, and awards related to math and science.
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  • crypticismcrypticism 240 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I've been involved with Community Theater for 5 years now, volunteer at the Humane Society, take drum lessons, and do as many college programs as possible.
    Sports and dance are also great (One homeschooled friend of mine plays in a community soccer team and does dance).. Look at your interests and at what's available in your community, and maybe there'll be some matches! Good luck!
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  • writebrainedwritebrained 8 replies1 threads New Member
    First of all, all of your comments and suggestions regarding college classes were very helpful. Registration for the next term is currently open at my local community college, so I think I'll look through their catalog and sign up for a course.

    And in general, all of you have given me a lot of really great suggestions to think over. I used to think there were no outside activities I could participate in, but now I'm almost overwhelmed by all the possibilities! Thank you all very much.

    angrod: There are some art classes I could take, so I think I'll look into that. I hadn't thought of starting something on my own - that's a really good idea and I'll definitely give it serious consideration.

    texas137: I hadn't thought of book clubs or writing workshops; thanks for suggesting them. I'll have to see what's available around here; I live in a rather remote area and there isn't much to do.

    reasonabledad: I have been trying to get some of my writing published, actaully. I'm taking a distance learning writing course, and my writing teacher has been urging me to submit some of my stories and poetry to magazines. It never occurred to me, however, that publishing my writing would demonstrate "intellectual vitality". I guess I'll have to start submitting more agressively. I like your suggestion of organizing an effort to do something useful in my community; I'll have to think about that.

    crypticism: Thanks for the encouragement! You and reasonabledad both mentioned sports and dance, but unfortunately I am a totally uncoordinated klutz. I wonder if it would be worth it to join a noncompetitive athletic activity, however, just to demonstrate well-roundedness? I might add something in over the summer or next fall, after I've started some other classes and activities.
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  • texas137texas137 2086 replies57 threads Senior Member
    sometimes large bookstores (like Barnes & Noble) sponsor book clubs. Or, if there is some sort of email list or newsletter connecting homeschoolers in your area, you might be able to locate some other teens for a homeschooler book discussion group of some sort. Our local group had a great activity a few years ago where they put the pigs from "Animal Farm" on trial). Also see if your community has informal classes intended for adults. That's a good source of writing workshops.

    How about ballroom dancing? That seems to be gaining in popularity among college age people, so it would be a useful skill to acquire. Even MIT has a ballroom dancing club. And you don't have to be particularly athletic/graceful/coodinated to do it.
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  • reasonabledadreasonabledad 847 replies38 threads Member
    Both of my homeschoolers have learned ballroom dancing as well. At first it was by parental command, but gradually it became fun (I lead from the front and took lessons too...and I have NO talent for it). I will say that the first few lessons are generally not that fun for the guys: we don't generally know what we are doing and we have to lead as well. But it gets better quickly, and it is very useful to know.
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  • 3togo3togo 5218 replies15 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2004
    I also believe that in many school districts that the ECs provided at the public schools are also open for homeschooled kids ... so there may be activities at your local high school in which you may participate.
    edited December 2004
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  • jvdjvd 87 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Some of the things my daughters have done and are doing. Youth Court, College Classes, Volunteer at Fair Science Exhibit, Community Choir, Church Functions, Tutor at local private schools, Private Art Classes, Volunteer work at local senior home.

    There are tons of things to do. College Classes do help to get other teachers to know you for future recs. Do some volunteer work, hardly anyone turns down a volunteer and it's good for you. Use your imagination to get out of the house a little.
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  • nmfnmf 4 replies1 threads New Member
    I am also having the same problem and unfortunately cannot suggest anything, but I have a question. How many different extracurricular activities would one have to limit to in order to not look as though they're spread themselves too thin?
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  • angrodangrod 119 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Well, I don't think there is a particular number. It is fine to do a lot of things, just as long as you are very involved in at least one. Focus on one or two, maybe even three, but if you want to fit in some more stuff on the side I think that is just fine.
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  • nmfnmf 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for responding. Specifically what kind of extracurricular activities do colleges like to see applicants apply themselves to?
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  • angrodangrod 119 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I think anything as long as you're passionate about it. For top tier tech universities, they might favor things like research, math/science/engineering competitions, etc. Those universities are the only ones I have experience with though, so for someone with more of a liberal arts bent I really couldn't say. Hope that is somewhat helpful. Just do what you like and focus on it!
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  • texas137texas137 2086 replies57 threads Senior Member
    I agree with angrod - colleges would rather see you spend a lot of time on some off-the-wall hobby you are passionate about than on a bunch of school clubs and ec's you are just doing to build a resume.
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  • nmfnmf 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you angrod. Your posts were indeed very helpful. Thanks for responding, texas137. I will keep that in mind.
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  • hsmomstefhsmomstef 3455 replies124 threads Senior Member
    I am homeschooling my 2 boys, 5th and 9th grade this year. My oldest wants to attend a very good, small private college (nothing picked out yet) and he has also considered the air force academy or an air force scholarship (full ride!) so I have been doing alot of research so that he would meet the standards for HYP if he chooses to go that way.

    This is what we have decided on for EC's:

    Scouts--both boys must stay active in scouts until they earn their Eagle Award. at that time they can choose to drop out of it or continue. Many colleges look at the Eagle Award as a demonstration of leadership (which can also be shown as president of student council, editor of a school newspaper, etc...all not available to homeschoolers). The Girl Scout Gold Award is also looked upon as proof of leadership.

    Civil Air Patrol--my oldest son is participating and planning on achieving the highest rank (the Spaatz Award) before applying to colleges (hopefully end of junior year). This is a tough award, demonstrates leadership and academics..another way to show that you can work well with others. My younger son will probably do the same.

    Congressional Youth Award--you can find out more doing a google search. Basically, this award is great for homeschoolers as it should encompass alot of what you are already doing. there are three parts to it, physical, academic and volunteer work. you have a counselor that is not related to you that go over it...again, outside verification that you have done the work and it is of a high level. My sons are both required to get the gold medal before graduating.

    A Sport--college are looking for variety in activities, leadership, depth in the field and a real interest. I called and talked to several college admissions counselors (including yale and air force academy) regarding sports. My son is not big on sports at all and team sports are not available to home schoolers in our state. My son loves martial arts and has chosen Aikido as his sport of passion. the schools i talked to said they preferred team sports (again with the leadership) and a varsity letter, but for homeschoolers they understood the difficulty (or impossibility) of that. Choosing a sport and pursuing over the high school years and demonstrating mastery and leadership (my son will have his Shodan--like a black belt--and teach classes if all goes well) is what they are looking for. there are tons of options for sports...a good place to look is college clubs. Fencing, crew, softball, swimming...i could go on and on. but every college i talked to said they wanted a sport!!

    One more activity--colleges are not looking for the person signed up for 20 things...they want someone who shows a passion for what they are involved in, showed leadership, contribution to society, etc. pick one more activity and do it 100%. this could be music, art, speech and debate or something more exotic! this is where homeschoolers can really shine because of our flexibility. We haven't decided on this for my son, his only real big interest is in Asian Studies, so that will probably be it. He takes private Chinese lessons and wants to live in China for his senior year.

    In addition to the above, year round activities...travel, be well read (not just what is assigned), go to concerts and plays, read a good newspaper, get out and meet different people and participate in some summer programs. homeschoolers are sometimes perceived as being closeted at home with parents and never getting good exposure to the outside world. Be ready to counter that attititude by being well rounded and working hard to have many different outside experiences.
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  • candidatemomcandidatemom 538 replies1 threads Member
    No one mentioned community service.
    Many public schools now require a prescribed number of hours of community service prior to graduation. Community service proves that a candidate is willing to give back to the community; to do something that is for others rather than for self.

    Community service can be provided through a number of organized sources. Church youth group, hospital volunteers, through youth groups affiliated with adult service groups such as Kiwanis.
    Individual service is easy. Help out an elderly neighbor by doing yard work on a regular basis for no pay, babysit (for free) on a regular basis for a single parent so they can go for groceries. You get the idea.
    In our area, no homeschooler may be a part of the public school's extra-curricular program. (Liability insurance issues.)
    Good Luck
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  • Private_JokerPrivate_Joker 767 replies45 threads Member
    hey writebrained, it seems to me your niche is writing. You should pursuit that with all your ability.Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful:
    1.) You could apply to summer programs or courses at local universities. When you are applying to colleges you can list as your ec's that you attended that program.
    2.) As far as volunteering goes, you can definitely use your talent. Try contacting your local library, boy's and girl's club, or YMCA and ask if you can set up some sort of creative writing or reading hour for young children. Just get a few friends and an adult to help you.
    3.) If you attend Church or you are a member of some orginization try approaching them and asking if you could perform one of your stories as a play. you can involve the community in this one:)
    4.) If you don't attend Church or are not part of an orginization, then don't worry. I'll admit this will be difficult and time-consuming. Try going to you local high school, Community College, or some other place that might have a room where you can perform your stories. You wouldn't have to perform your writings as a play. You could perform by yourself or enlist someone else for the job and perform your story using dramatic storytelling. Unfortunately, if this is something that can easily be awful or wonderful.
    5.) If your writing is REALLY good, there are PRESTIGIOUS awards you can win. For example, the Presidential Award in the Performing ARTS ( I think that's the name) . If you win, you go to the White House and recieve a certificate by the President. It's a big thing but, you have to be outstanding. You will competing with writer, filmakers, dancers, singers, musicians, artists, etc.
    6.) Also, try developing your artistic ability. You could showcase your drawings at local venues, maybe even your local art museum. I'm sure art museums might have amateur sections where you could showcase your art. I know this is a long shot, though. And, try applying to art programs for the summer. I know that there are really good ones out there.

    Well, that is my two cents. I hope that helped. Oh, and another thing have you tried submitting you work to the teen magazine TeenInk?
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  • natnat 7 replies0 threads New Member
    Writebrained, I'd look for a volunteer position reading to children, if I were you. It would feed your interest in children's lit, and would look great on your applications.

    First I'd check with my local library. See if they have any existing programs you can plug into. If not, see if you can start one. Your volunteer record can be an important part of your college application, and I can't think of anything better than starting a volunteer program like that.

    If the door is shut at the library, approach your local public and private elementary schools. It depends on the school, but at our local public school, I'd start at the bottom by directly approaching any lower elementary teachers to see if they could use the help. Then I'd talk with the librarian, and if still nothing panned out, I'd approach the principal.

    Or you might be able to help out with creative writing in the upper elementary grades.

    Of course, it's always great to break out of your comfort zone, and learn something like rock climbing, and I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue those things as well. But volunteering in the field you love would accentuate your passion for writing, and demonstrate your community mindedness at the same time. And you'd have a blast.
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  • ::tj::::tj:: 115 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I suggest getting a job in what you really love to do. If you play an instrument, a band might be nice, or if you act, the same is true. But you seem to love to write. Try applying for an internship at a newspaper near you, or something along those lines. It would look impressive, and it would give you experience in a feild of writing you dont seem as familiar with.

    Art is always a good idea- maybe you could combine it with a community aspect... teaching children at a nearby day care center? It would probably turn into a mess of paint, but it could be fun as well.

    I would also suggest taking courses, maybe in the summer, at a good college. Your scores are definently high enough, and it will allay some of the silly superstitions people have about homeschooled students. You can also find some first class instruction.
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