Extracurricular activities are an essential part of a college or scholarship application.

Scholarship committees are NOT merely looking for the applicant with the best grades and the highest test scores. They want what most people call a “well-rounded student.” However, there are a few misconceptions about what this means.

Well-rounded doesn’t mean that you are a member of every club at your school, only attending the monthly meetings. It also doesn’t mean that you must have multiple interests.

How about we give you an example:

Let’s say that you’re interested in tennis and that you play on your high school tennis team. In the off-season, you join a traveling team that competes across the region, run a tennis camp at the local boys and girls club, and even have your own business during the summer giving lessons.

Even though tennis is only one interest, you would definitely fit that well-rounded description because you have turned that interest into several activities that extend far beyond your school involvement.

Scholarship committees want to see that you are dedicated to your passions and that you are willing to take initiative to turn them into other opportunities. The tennis example demonstrates just that, as well as the fact that you have the ability to make connections with others in order to make this happen.

On the other hand, it’s great to have multiple interests. Say you play on the tennis team, but aren’t involved in all of the other ways mentioned above. It would be just as impressive to balance that with other organizational involvement, such as the math team and choir. Just make sure that your involvement has depth.

Wondering what activities to pursue?

Start by making a list of the things that interest you. Any interest can be turned into an extracurricular activity.

  • If you like to garden, start a gardening club, a community garden, or organize an annual seed swap.
  • If your passion is music, start a band, host a radio show, or hunt down bands to play for a local charity event.

These examples all demonstrate depth, which is exactly what scholarship committees are looking for when it comes to extracurricular activities.

Tip: Be interesting! Think about the type of activities at a typical high school: sports, math team, debate team, science club, chess club, newspaper, yearbook, etc… These are the extracurriculars that scholarship committees see every day. If you have an unusual passion or talent, pursue it! This is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, as well as demonstrate those characteristics mentioned above: dedication, initiative, and depth.

It’s important to start exploring your interests early. This will allow you to try out different activities and narrow it down to the ones you’re really passionate about. The more time you’re involved, the more opportunities you will find, which means more depth.

Bonus: If you follow this advice, then you will most likely earn some distinction in your area of interest in the form of honors or awards. Similarly, leadership experience is a highly sought after characteristic for scholarship recipients. By getting involved in extracurriculars, you will come across many opportunities to demonstrate your leadership abilities.

Need help brainstorming about Extracurricular Activities?

Let us know in the comments below: What is your favorite extracurricular activity? How are you demonstrating depth?