There is a frenzy for great extracurriculars and a powerful profile among students and parents nowadays. Many students are anxious that their extracurriculars are not “good” enough, not “rounded” enough, or simply just not enough. This is especially true for students who don’t have high awards at prestigious competitions or tests. Sometimes, a lot of people forget the fact that not every student needs to win awards or have strong titles to get into good colleges. The truth is: there is no specific equation to get in. However, there are patterns. With that being said, here are common strong noncompetitive extracurriculars for college.
For many students, especially those who are striving for a specific field or interest, interning can be a great extracurricular. While interning at a fast food restaurant and doing what is basically “free labour” to companies is not as impressive, shadowing under professionals, teachers, professors, or people of that nature is. There are many different options depending on what internship you are looking for as well. From helping with lab research, writing research papers, or gaining valuable work experience, students can choose what they are most comfortable and interested in.
To start an internship, one of the easier options is connections, especially local ones. Of course, connections aren’t needed to gain an opportunity. Reaching out to professors that are doing research you are interested in or finding companies that are accepting high school interns on job searching websites are all good ways to get a head start.
Community Service and Nonprofits
While counting hours and doing numb community service is simply overrated among both college admissions and students, having an actual impact and showing colleges you care can be impressive. It seems like everyone and their cousin is starting a nonprofit nowadays, but there are still ways to stand out. Key points to show colleges you have made an impact and are passionate in this field are people impacted, time dedication and how many years you have done this, how much money you raised if you are creating a nonprofit, etc. These numbers, especially if you have raised thousands or impacted thousands, can help with the “wow” factor.
Creating a local nonprofit may seem like a tough task to some who want to impact their community. What many people don’t realize is that they can join an important, existing nonprofit and work to obtain leadership positions.
Scientific Research: Research Papers or Presentations
If you’re thinking of going into STEM, whether it be Chemistry or Computer Science, scientific research is a good option. Of course, having something to show for your research proves your authenticity. Simply doing some small tasks and contributing little to a larger research project (and therefore learning nothing) will be both a waste of time and meaningless. Scientific research with a professional (tying into internships) is a great opportunity, but it’s not the only path students can take. Students can always do independent research. Although it will be more difficult, students can use what they find to publish independently, or even submit their research into a prestigious science fair or competition.
Publishing a Book/ Novel
While this is one of the relatively rarer and more difficult extracurriculars, it’s nevertheless viable. Of course, this takes a lot of dedication if you’re thinking of writing a book by yourself, especially when the book is STEM related. Publishing a research paper may be easier, and comparing the lengths of the two (most books should be at least 100+ pages while research papers can be less than 10), it only further proves this point.
However, if you manage to dedicate yourself and finish the book (many students think of writing but never actually commit to the end), then that makes this extracurricular all the more impressive.
There are many other examples and categories of great extracurriculars for college apps not mentioned in this blog. Each one has their own pros and cons, with the cons mainly being difficulty and time management. It is important to remember to strive for your passions and interests, and not do things just because it might look good on your college application. With that being said, not everyone needs to have a competitive talent and win awards. Of course, it is good to, but there are so many other options to consider. Push forward a story with your entire application, and keep your interests close to your heart.