Myth: Participating in extracurricular activities will help students get into college.
FALSE. Extracurricular activities do help students become more competitive candidates, but unless students are applying to highly selective colleges, like the Ivy Leagues, it does not help students gain college admission. Nearly all college representatives see GPA and standardized test scores as more
important indicators of the student’s academic success. STAT: Only 1.6
percent of colleges in the United States reject more students than they accept.
Myth: Participating in a lot of extracurricular activities is better than only participating in one or two.
FALSE. In the world of resumes and scholarships, demonstrated leadership and passion in one or two activities is far better than participating in a
multitude just to say you did it. Carl Collins, who works in campus
enrollment management at Troy University also finds that extracurricular activities help teens build their network and develop skills that can benefit them throughout their college career.
Myth: Participating in extracurricular activities gives students an upper hand in scholarship competitions.
TRUE. Outside of the scholarships students can earn through their participation in certain extracurricular activities, scholarship judges also look favorably at applicants with deeper involvement in an area of interest, passion or concern. Burton U. Ward, President at Central Alabama Community Foundation (CACF) says that when it comes to choosing winners for the scholarships they offer, “Grade point average is probably the biggest deciding factor. Then, whatever the particular scholarship is based on, for example an interest in nursing or art. Extracurricular activities being third.”
“Three keys to standing out that come to mind are one, a demonstrated leadership ability; two, the ability to appear sincere (one’s application demonstrates how much one cares); and three, one’s demonstrated ability to work through obstacles (as we often say, life happens, so how are you going to choose to deal with it?).”
– Carl Collins, Campus Enrollment Management at Troy University
Important Questions to Ask before Taking on Extracurricular Activities
Like many things in life, there are pros and cons to participating in extra-curricular activities. So before signing up for every organization at school, it’s important to first ask yourself these critical questions.
What will I get out of joining this club or organization?
Aiming to make new friends, earn a scholarship, or gain leadership or other skills? Think this extracurricular activity can help you decide on a future career choice? Whatever the reason, make sure you’re benefiting from more than just a free t-shirt for signing up.
Can I afford the time commitment?
If you can’t honestly add an additional commitment to your plate without
burning out or slacking in an important area, then it’s time to cut back or let this new venture go.
What gifts do I want to nurture?
Some gifts can be nurtured in other ways outside of extracurricular activities. For example, you may find that taking a class, participating in a summer program, or volunteering with a local non-profit is a more effective way to get your hands involved in your passion.
“Volunteering at a humane society helped me realize that I did not want to be a veterinarian. I love animals, but don’t like the smells and medical pieces of that career.”
–Pam, mom of three boys.