Why Do Colleges Care About Extracurricular Activities?
It’s easy to see why grades and test scores carry a lot of weight in the college application process. But many frustrated high school students wonder why universities seem to care so much about extracurricular activities. Why do these activities actually matter, as long as you have good grades?
The answer is that colleges view extracurricular activities as character-building exercises. A variety of activities can actually help you develop the tools you need in order to succeed in college.
Emotional strength. Sports, in particular, train students to persevere through difficult situations.
Leadership skills. Students often learn valuable management and delegation skills from holding leadership positions.
Professional skills. Many extracurricular activities teach teenagers the skills they will need in college and beyond, in the professional world. Public speaking, working as part of a team, and training toward long-term goals help students succeed in other areas of their lives.
A broader social experience. We learn by interacting with a large variety of people. Just think how close-minded a person might be, if they only ever talked to their immediate family! The more diversity in one’s life, the broader their overall life experience.
Time management. In college, students won’t have teachers who politely remind them of impending assignment deadlines. Time management becomes crucial to success, and colleges know that students who have successfully balanced their studies with extracurricular activities have probably developed excellent time management skills.
Greater exploration of interests. Extracurricular activities reflect the student’s interests. Those who have engaged in an in-depth exploration of their interests are better prepared for their chosen majors, and therefore more likely to succeed.
Colleges actually want their students to succeed! Successful students equal a better reputation for the school, higher retention rates, and better job placement rates after graduation. In light of these facts, it’s easy to see why schools place value on their candidates’ extracurricular activities. No one is saying you should run out and join every club at school, but developing the interests you already have is a great idea, and will help round out your college applications.