Keeping your grades up in high school is certainly critical for getting into a good college. However, colleges don’t just look at your GPA and test scores – they also look at your extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities are important to colleges because they give them a sense of your character and work ethic.

But, what exactly counts as an extracurricular activity and how will you know which ones are important? Simply put, extracurricular activities are those that fall outside of the usual school curriculum. Certain extracurricular activities demonstrate leadership skills, teamwork skills, ambition and a sense of selflessness, which are traits that colleges typically want in their students.

The following are a few of the extracurricular activities that demonstrate these traits that can help when you’re preparing for college:

Working a part-time job

Working for money does count as an extracurricular activity. After all, working while you are in school shows a certain level of motivation and ambition as well as work ethic, especially if you are able to maintain good grades while working. Colleges will assume that you will be able to handle the rigors of the college workload, which many high school students often have trouble adjusting to.

Working as an intern

Colleges don’t expect high school students to be able to find internships, so if you manage to find one it will be even more impressive. Internships show that you know what you want and that you are ambitious and willing to work hard to develop your skills.

Playing a sport

Playing sports during high school also showcases your work ethic and motivation since practice is required to excel. Additionally, playing for an athletic team allows you to develop your teamwork skills. If you happen to be the captain of your team, it will demonstrate leadership skills to colleges. Of course, if you excel at your chosen sport, you’ll draw the attention of colleges as well since they may want you to compete for their school on the collegiate level.

Participating on the debate team

Students who join the debate team tend to be engaged in current issues and develop the ability to think critically. They also learn how to speak their mind in a convincing way without being argumentative or patronizing. These are qualities that colleges look for in every student, especially since this means they are more likely to add to classroom discussions, which will in-turn foster more participation from other students as well.

Writing or editing the school newspaper

Writing is a specific skill that colleges look for. Students that write well tend to have a better chance of being accepted and also completing their program; it’s why colleges require essays from prospective students.

Writing or editing for the school newspaper will not only help improve your writing skills, but colleges also believe that those skills will translate well to the classroom. Additionally, being published anywhere – even if it’s just in your school newspaper – is an achievement that colleges regard highly.

Participating in student government

Not only do you demonstrate an understanding of politics on a basic level by participating in student government, you’ll also demonstrate to colleges that you have leadership skills that will translate to college life and beyond.

Participating in volunteer work and community service

If you take the time to do volunteer work or community service, it will speak volumes about your character. There are many ways that you can participate in volunteer work or community service. For example, you can volunteer at a homeless shelter, volunteer at a retirement home or organize fundraisers for a good cause.

Joining or starting a culture club

Colleges look favorably on students that start clubs on their own as this demonstrates leadership and ambition – and the drive to get other students involved. Colleges see these types of students as being extremely important to foster more student involvement throughout the campus.

Even participating in clubs without taking on a leadership role can help strengthen your application, especially if it’s a culture club, which demonstrates that you are open-minded and interested in (and accepting of) other cultures.

Joining or starting an academic club

Academic clubs or teams, such as a math club or a science club, are a good way to show colleges that you are passionate about education and that you are willing to work hard to continue your education even outside of the classroom.

Find the best extracurricular activity for you

If you want to get into a good college, it’s important that you supplement your grades and test scores with extracurricular activities that demonstrate certain traits. These are some of the extracurricular activities that you should consider participating in while you are attending high school. If you already know your college goals then choose extracurricular activities that support those goals.

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