Filling out a college application can be a daunting task. Many students get fixated on the essay portion of the application, which is incredibly important. But many students also ignore a crucial part of the application: your extracurricular activities.
You might think, “OK, I did volleyball in seventh grade and was in Honor Society, but why does that matter now?” Let me tell you why.
Imagine working in a registration office at a university. By the application deadline you have received thousands of applications that you have to review, and after a while they begin to blur together. All of the students have similar GPAs, so how is anyone going to stand out? This is why extra-curricular activities and even work experience are so important. You can think of this as building your college resumé.
So, what can you be doing now to build your college resumé? The answer is simple: get involved! Join clubs, do sports, get a part time job. You don’t need to be ASB president or be on the varsity team, but you need to use your experience to showcase your leadership strengths.
Gaining these experiences will make you more marketable to colleges.
When I was applying to colleges, I would always use my National Honor Society, Link Crew (a club that gave orientations to incoming freshman students), and travel experience to set myself apart. If you can show that you are already a diverse, well-rounded member of society, the universities will be lining up to ask you to represent them! Here are some things you can do to begin your “resumé-building”.
Like I said, you don’t need to be cheer captain or a varsity football star, but being involved in sports has the potential to show qualities of endurance and participation in activities. You can use the time that you wanted to quit but didn’t to show your qualities of perseverance. You could say that being involved in sports taught you how to not give up and how to set goals. These are things that colleges look for, and ways you could separate yourself from the pack.
Not every student is into sports and that’s ok. It’s better to get involved in something you are passionate about that be half-heartedly engaged. You can use your experience in music, drama, debate or the chess club in a similar way.
Clubs are an excellent way to get involved. When I was in high school, I was involved in Spanish Club, National Honor Society, and Link Leadership. Through all of these activities I earned community service hours, which is something that colleges LOVE to hear about. This means that you are likely to serve their community once you are enrolled. Also, if you have leadership positions in your clubs you can use those to talk about your leadership experience. Though it doesn’t seem like much, all of these things add to your resume.
Worldly experiences are gold when it comes to resume building. It shows that you are adventurous, cultured, and have worldly perspectives to offer to their university.
Before I applied to college I traveled to Europe for two weeks with my high school. Though it was only a two week long experience, I was able to share that my suitcase was lost for the first week of my travels and I had to live without it. This showed that not only was I a world traveler, but I was able to live with the clothes on my back and the limited amount of items I had in my backpack. Though this probably hasn’t happened to you (I have terrible luck), you can use your world experiences to showcase your qualities.
Yes, you should absolutely use your work experience when applying for colleges. Work experience at a young age shows that you can handle yourself in professional situations. It also shows that you know the value of a dollar and are aware that college is expensive. Even if you had a job at a McDonald’s drive thru, use it! It’s better than nothing.
You don’t have to have done all of these things to get into college. Like I said previously, it’s just to show how dynamic and awesome you are! If you set your mind to do anything, chances are you will achieve it. However, using the tools you have already acquired throughout your high school experience will make you well equipped for applying and attending college.
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