While we're still a few months away from college application season, it is never too early to start preparing to ensure you have enough substance on your application. The goal is to stand out in a meaningful way and highlight your strengthens. Your application should portray you as the best candidate! 

When it comes to your volunteer, extracurricular, and professional experiences, you don’t want to leave blank space. Make the most of your time in school to ensure you have the most material for your application possible. The best advice? Be undeniable! 

Keep in mind, however, that colleges are aware when the activities you choose to participate in are simply for the sake of being able to say you did. Sometimes, having too diverse a list of activities can hurt you. It's important to try and keep your participation limited to activities you actually enjoy and will keep pursuing – especially ones that are relevant to what you want to pursue in college. 

Plus! At Scholly, we are all about pursuing your passion and what you're GREAT at, so you might as well choose what you love. That way, you’ll benefit from the experience in more ways than just your application word count.

Here are different types of extracurricular activities that colleges actually want to see. With a little something for everyone, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

1. Student Government

Colleges value applicant with leadership skills. And what better way to demonstrate such skills than holding a position in student government? It’s a great way to participate in school affairs and shows you take initiative, are responsible, and trusted by your peers. 

2. Speech & Debate Team

Students on the speech and debate teams are more likely to be engaged in current issues of today, since the topics they speak to and debate are often related to news, relevant events, and social issues. It's also an excellent way to learn critical thinking skills and think on your feet; two qualities colleges certainly look for in prospective students. 

3. Internships

Snagging an internship is a surefire way to boost your application in a sea of competition. It shows you're dedicated to your career goals and mature enough to handle work & school simultaneously. Demonstrating such qualities shows admissions officers you’ll be more than capable of handling heavier course loads and will more than likely be actively participating in your curriculum.

4. Academic Teams and Clubs

Joining an academic club or team shows that you’re passionate about learning and gaining a competitive advantage. It shows that when it comes to a challenge, you're ready to take it on!  Mathletes, robotics, academic decathalons, and STEM clubs are just a few examples where you can train your brain in a fun and rewarding way, and will definitely tell admissions officers that you love to learn and want to exceed.

5. The Arts

Creativity is always an asset when it comes to college applications. Students active in creative arts, like music, drama and visual arts are often unique and think outside of the box. These qualities make you more compelling on an application, and admissions officers find them attractive. An artistic edge also lets colleges know that you will add culture and diversity to campus life, something colleges very often strive for. 

6. Culture Clubs

Speaking of culture! To promote diversity, inclusion, and appreciation for others, colleges value involvement in cultural clubs & activities, whether you're a part of that culture or not. Colleges value students active in promoting diversity and culture now more than ever before. Involvement in such organizations, even off-campus, demonstrate your willingness to learn about and accept others, while creating awareness around those who may be different from you, and bringing different groups of people together. It also reveals that you have compassion for others and the strength of character to speak up for what you believe in.

7. Volunteer Work and Community Service

Most colleges consider some form of volunteer work or community service a must-have for all applicants. It looks especially good if you get involved with a volunteer activity that students tend to generally shy away from. For example, volunteering at a retirement home or community clean-ups. However, there are so many other easy ways to help out in your community – just think creatively! The great thing about volunteer activities though is that you can volunteer with organizations that don't necessarily relate to what you want to pursue, since colleges value the volunteering more than anything else. 

8. The Student Newspaper

This is an excellent way to showcase your writing skills and show that you are interested in the world around you and are aware. Plus, being published in any form – whether it’s the student newspaper or another form – is an impressive accomplishment. Exercising this skill, especially in a more creative outlet like a student publication, looks great on your application because it shows that your interests extend beyond that of academic or professional, and that you're interested in even the people, events, and happenings around you. 

9. A Part-time Job

If you’re concerned about your lack of extracurricular activities because of your job, don’t be. Colleges know that many students don’t have the luxury of participating in extracurricular activities because they must work to help support their families or themselves. Plus, similar to an internship, a part-time job shows that you're willing to work hard and are able to balance school and work. It shows dedication & commitment, arguably two of the most important qualities one should possess as a college student. 

10. Athletics

Sports  are a great way to practice and showcase your ability to work in a team, ability to lead, and that physical health is important to you. However, while athletics are a great way to demonstrate an array of traits and qualities, it's important that you don't rely solely on your athletic prowess and also get involved in additional activities that make you look more well-rounded. 

What activities do you consider to be most important? Those activities are great to include on scholarship applications as well. Start your scholarship search and get matched with thousands of scholarships instantly.

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