Admission to selective universities has become exceedingly competitive in recent years, with thousands of students vying for places against applicants with comparable grades and test scores. Your extracurricular profile can help your application stand out from others, providing evidence of your commitment to your academic path, personal growth, and the community, which shows your potential to contribute to a college campus. With a little strategic planning, you can shape your profile to really shine!

The best place to start is to decide where you want to go to college! Different countries have different approaches to how they view activities. 

  • UK universities place a greater emphasis on activities related to the course you are applying for, or “supercurriculars.” They want to see a genuine interest and commitment to that particular area of study. These activities are often academic in nature, but internships and independent reading can be just as effective as participating in academic competitions or taking online courses. 
  • For the US, extracurriculars play a much more significant role in the admissions process. In addition to  valuing students who have made efforts to excel in their chosen academic discipline beyond the school curriculum, they also look for experiences that demonstrate leadership, community involvement, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world. 

That leaves a lot of room for interpretation and, as a result, there is a lot of myth, mystery, and misunderstanding surrounding extracurricular activities in the US application process. Many mistakenly believe that this means getting involved in every opportunity, hoping to demonstrate a wide range of interests and skills. Others approach the process with the intention of ticking items off some arbitrary, highly ambitious, and often imaginary, list. However, aside from risking your academic performance to keep up with everything, having too many extracurricular involvements may be interpreted as shallow and meaningless. Remember, universities are more interested in students who have made sustained commitments that reflect their personality, values, and skills. Furthermore, academic results are ALWAYS the priority for your applications and should not be compromised to keep up with activities!

We advise taking the funnel approach to discover your own interests before starting to shape your profile:

  • In your first two years of high school, focus on exploring your options. Try out different clubs and organizations, and think about where you could see yourself taking on leadership positions in the future.
  •  By the time you hit the last two years of school, you will have focused on the activities that genuinely inspire, excite, and motivate you. 
  • Think about how you can really contribute and make an impact to these activities over your final two years!

Continue reading Part Two of How to Build a Stellar Extracurricular Profile, including tips on choosing your activities effectively, here. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this further or need help planning your extracurricular profile, please get in touch!

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