Do you HAVE to do extracurricular activities related to your major even if you don't enjoy them?

I’m a junior. I really want to study software engineering in college but there aren’t many software engineering/computer science related clubs at our school. We have a robotics club but I feel like it’s a waste of time and there are about 100 ish members so it takes a lot of time. I love social studies and history so I chose to do MUN which I absolutely love doing. I also like chess and I am (hopefully) the best chess player or one of the best players in our club. I tried robotics but it wasn’t really my thing. My friends are thinking about creating a rocket club which I am interested in but it isn’t real yet. I might to key club because helping others and making friends is good in high-school. I’m also in National Honor Society (we meet twice a month). I have Arduino/PC components/micro controllers at home and I mess with them/do projects by myself but I don’t think colleges will consider this as an “extracurricular” activity. Should I force myself to stay in robotics or keep doing what I like?

Doing projects by yourself is an extracurricular activity, but it would be better if the projects are not just for yourself. Doing software projects for nonprofit organizations, teaching programming to younger kids, contributing to open source projects are all worthy extracurriculars. Or you can start a club at school.

You could help seniors with technology, volunteer in scouting, get a job in programing. EC don’t have to be through your school.

STEM is competitive. It helps to show an interest outside of classes. As others have mentioned, however, that doesn’t mean you have to do something exclusively through your school. Look for opportunities in your community. If given the choice, though, I would select activities in which you interact with others over solo pursuits - or at least keep up with MUN to show colleges that you can “play well with others”.

Personally I think that you should participate in the extracurricular activities that you want to participate in.

In high school, the only EC that I participated in that was even remotely “academic” was chess. Otherwise I sailed and skiied. This did not stop me from getting accepted to every university I applied to, including one very selective one which happens to be well known for being good at CS (and math and a few other things). I am not sure that any of us quite know why a school accepts us, but I feel that having done what I wanted to do meant that I did it better.

Chess is a very logical activity where you need to think several moves ahead, keep the overall picture in mind, and get where you want to go one little step at a time. In this regard it does have some similarity to software engineering. I think that it is a good EC.

In my opinion, do what you like. You sound to me as if you are doing well.

Pick EC’s that you have a passion for. It will result in deeper involvement, leadership roles, accomplishments, etc.

A school would rather see a student that spent 4 years in a community service organization, leading events and making a difference than being one of 50 kids who was a “member” of major-aligned clubs and activities.

It doesn’t matter what “we” did in hs. Times, standards, and competition have changed.

Here’s the problem. The bigger chunk of posters on CC say, do what you want, make yourself happy. They use the word “passion,” which I think is rather vague, for the 14-18 year old group. Kids know what they like, but in the words of a former Stanford dean, they’ve had no time to develop true passions, in the way we adults see it, the time frame and real sorts of challenges.

But at the same time, we get a high number of kids aiming for highly competitive colleges. Those colleges have expectations and one is, if you say you’re interested in X, get involved in X, outside classes. And with peers, especially when the goal is a field that’s highly collaborative. Show your stuff. (And, with peers because top colleges value your openness to working with others, your ability to interact with them, not just sit by yourself.)

For stem, for engineering, that does NOT mean “engineering” ECs. It refers to some math and/or sci activities. And robotics, like it or not, is one of those. So are math bowl or sci olympiad, even academic bowl. Or tech crew. You may love the Pie Club, you and your bestie may have a blast in it. You may be president. But where’s evidence you also pursue activities related to your supposed major, using those skills and that thinking? Evidence you’re aware of opportunities and go for them, commit? There are no points for, “Did only what he liked.”

Plus, yes, you can get out of the little high school box, the thinking that, if the hs doesn’t offer it at 3pm, that’s that.

Lol, community service is another topic. It’s not just volunteering, hours spent in some easy thing that club goes to. Take off your coat, spend an hour, then leave. Nor just working with little kids or tutoring, filing books or emptying the recycle bins. Not just for some distant land. Etc. It’s what you do for the local community.

If your targets aren’t that competitive, fine, do what you want.

OP said, “…I have Arduino/PC components/micro controllers at home and I mess with them/do projects by myself but I don’t think colleges will consider this as an “extracurricular” activity…”

Yes, these are indeed bona fide ECs. Do you contribute your codes to ‘github’ or the likes of ‘github’? This would be useful to others and helpful in documenting these activities for yourself, as records of these “private/personal ECs” in your future college applications.