This is a guest post written by Suzanne Shaffer, the founder of Parents Countdown to College Coach. She helps parents navigate the college maze by providing expert help and encouragement. Suzanne is the definition of a college-prep expert – she has been in the business for many years and has some great advice and insight to provide any family on the college-bound journey! We encourage you to learn more about Parents Countdown to College Coach and check out the original post!

Did you know a hobby can be a plus on your college application? You bet! What do hobbies communicate? Passion. What are college admissions officers looking for? Passion.

Hobbies and Extracurriculars

Hobbies can be a valuable component of the extracurricular record. If your teen already has a hobby, help them find clubs or organizations related to that hobby. Hobbies can also be used as a non-teenager activity. These activities are viewed by admissions counselors as unique and can often differentiate your teen from other applicants. If your teen is interested in writing for instance, blogging might prove beneficial. Many admissions counselors are looking for those unique qualities that set your teen apart from the thousands of applicants in the pool. If your teen raises homing pigeons, for example, a counselor might find this fascinating and vote yes on an application that is sitting in the maybe pile. There are all kinds of hobbies that can lead to college majors and future careers. (i.e. forensic science, gaming, history buff). Whatever hobby your teen has chosen, find a way to incorporate it into the high school resume and utilize it as one of the many components of the extracurriculars.

Hobbies and the College Essay

Experts recommend that students take every available opportunity on an application to fill in details about who they are and how they spend their time. Talk about your Etsy shop, rock band, or videography for example, if they highlight your individuality, personality and passion.

You can use the essay to talk about why you chose this hobby and why this makes you passionate – and then definitely include why the university that you want to go to will help you get to where you want to go in the future.

Explaining your hobbies in your college application can also help officials recognize valuable traits that aren’t revealed in a high school transcript. For example, admissions officials say entrepreneurship in high school shows that you’re a leader who takes action – a characteristic that colleges value.

Paul Hemphill, College Planning Expert, relates a story about one of his students who spent the weekends tending to the graves of Civil War soldiers. He parlayed that into an amazing essay about respect, honor and commitment. As you can imagine, this unusual hobby made the student stand out in the college application process.

Hobbies and Scholarships

And here’s a bonus: turn your hobbies into college cash! Scholarship Experts points out that many hobbies are showcased by organizations that award scholarships to those who pursue that hobby: amateur radio, poetry, art, knitting, and video for example. And don’t forget about the Bass Fishing Scholarship offered by several colleges.