_quantity vs quality_ for extracurriculars

Jun 27, 2024

"Quantity vs Quality" for Extracurriculars

Students often find themselves in a worrisome situation before finishing school pondering over the optimum amount of time and effort that they need to invest in extra-curricular activities. This becomes more concerning when they recognize the looming disaster of not performing well academically. The question thus arises; how important are extra-curricular activities in securing a sweet spot in your dream college?

The answer to that lies in the understanding of what admission officers search for when looking through student applications. The truth is, your grades are critical in proving that you can meet the intellectual challenges of the college environment and thrive in a setting that values high academic standards. However, the extra-curricular activities are just as significant to the admissions committee as they provide a gateway to understanding who you are and what you wish to commit to. While your outstanding grades highlight your academic prowess, they don't reveal your character or the unique contributions you can make outside the classroom environment. Through your extra-curricular activities, you must aim to showcase your stellar qualities and skills that would make you an excellent addition to the student body.

It’s crucial to understand that whilst considering extra-curricular activities, you don’t just need to work hard but work smart as well. The best approach here is to emphasize the quality of the extracurricular activities you choose to participate in. What specific skills are these experiences developing and how does their potential usefulness fit into the broader future goal you have set for yourself? Reflect on what your involvement in these activities speaks about your character to the admissions committee and how they highlight your personal growth. Keep in mind, instead of engaging in a wide array of similar activities, wisely handpick opportunities that enhance particular skills while allowing you to work in varied environments. The admissions committee is more likely to appreciate your dedication to honing a few select skills rather than superficial temporary involvement in an extra-curricular endeavor.

For example, if you wish to highlight your leadership capabilities, choose experiences that showcase your ability to take the leadership position in different dynamics. You can demonstrate your commitment through the depth of your engagement in leadership positions in multiple roles such as being the team lead for a community service initiative, initiating a school club, or even leading your team to victory in a competition. The same goes for being involved in your community; how many times have you demonstrated your passion for contributing positively to your surroundings? Some examples of this can be volunteering in your local charity school, orphanage, old age home, or even participating in clean-up or food drives.

As a student, it is imperative that you convey to the admissions committee that your involvement in extracurricular activities was motivated by genuine passion rather than simply the need to beef up your resume. The activities that you participate in need to demonstrate that you chose them because they resonated with your interests and values and not merely because they were the most accessible and easy option. Showcasing this authentic engagement will illustrate your commitment and the meaningful contributions you can make to the college community.


Often, despite actively participating in extracurricular activities that demonstrate determination and motivation, students struggle to effectively convey their experiences and achievements. This is because they only describe their roles and responsibilities as part of their engagement and not what they learned during it. While describing the initiatives that you have been a part of, it is important to dive deep and elaborate on what these experiences added to your profile and how they helped you develop insight that may prove to be advantageous for your future. Make it personal and describe what inspired you to opt for these experiences.

Remember, whilst your grades represent your intellectual and academic ability, your extra-curricular accolades mirror your interests, passion, and personality. The admissions committee might think you are a good fit for the college academically, but it is up to you to prove that the qualities you possess integrate well with the ethos of the college community.

By: Maavra Sajjad, UniHawk Writing Mentor

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