Extracurricular Activities, Sports, and Volunteering 

When applying to colleges, they want to see that you are a well-rounded, interesting person who does more than simply study. Extracurriculars can be a great way to make friends, show leadership and teamwork skills, and excel outside of the classroom. When elite universities are choosing students, that is just what they look for! Extracurricular activities also give you the chance to make friends and find what you’re passionate about. 

What kind of extracurricular activities should I do? 

Simply put, just follow your interests! There are so many great extracurricular activities that you can be a part of! Here are some examples: Sports (basketball, volleyball, tennis, skating, sailing); Arts (dance, theatre, painting); Public Speaking/Academics (school newspaper, academic teams, Model United Nations, debate); Student Government; Cultural Organizations. If your school does not offer a particular extracurricular activity that you’re interested in, see if there is a nearby school or community center which offers the activity, or better yet, start your own club that focuses on it at your school! For instance, if you love robotics and computer science, but there is no program at your school, try reaching out to a physics or science teacher and see if you can start your own club that meets during the week, which could lead to even state competitions and awards later on down the road! 

Should I have a part-time job or internship during school? 

Of course, focusing on school should always be your priority, but for many students, having a part-time job or internship can also be very helpful! For instance, if you’re interested in government, you could see if the Mayor’s Office needed an intern or if you are interested in biotechnology, you could get an in-depth view on new processes in research by helping out at a local university. This is a great way to showcase your passion for your interested field, and gain experience in the process. 

Why is volunteering important? 

Volunteering or community service is very important when applying to elite universities whose goal is to educate citizen-leaders of the future, who will care about making the world a better place. Therefore, it is almost a necessary pre-requisite to have some element of volunteering present in your application, whether it is raising money to build homes for families in need, tutoring at an afterschool kids program, doing global health research, or collecting stuffed animals for hospitals. Whichever volunteering program you do, make sure it shows how you cared for the local community’s needs and made a difference. 

Written by Cora Neudeck, Harvard College ‘19