How to Prepare for College
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5 Ways To Build Extracurriculars
Life can get busy, especially when you’re a high schooler. There is homework; there are tests and quizzes. There are games and dances as well as family events and responsibilities at home. For many high school students, school is their job: they’re expected to show up, work hard, and succeed in what they’re good at. For high school students that are looking to do more than just the usual at school, there are so many extracurricular opportunities. For students who are looking to attend top colleges, doing more than average is key. However, it is essential that students aren’t just signing up for random activities here and there throughout high school. It’s more important that students discover things that they’re interested in or seek out causes that they really want to help with. Building a great list of extracurricular activities not only adds some interest and meaning to a high schooler’s life, it can also be a great addition to an activities list or resume that eventually gets submitted with college applications. Read on for 5 ways to build your extracurricular activities:
- Learn to serve. One of the best activities for a high schooler is volunteer work, and the benefits are fantastic. Through volunteering, high schoolers can develop empathy and compassion, enhance skills and knowledge, expand social networks, create a sense of purpose, and foster civic engagement. Students can seek service opportunities in places such as their own school, church, local hospitals, or nearby animal shelters. If students are interested in a particular field of study or a certain major, they can try to find service work that matches their interests. Many College Ready students have taken their passion for a particular cause and turned it into a larger service project—also known as a passion project. If you’re a student interested in medicine or dentistry, perhaps you could put together hygiene kits or educational materials for a population in need. If you are a student interested in education, you can find organizations or local schools that need tutors or other academic help. If you can sew, create, or play music, find out how you can give or teach others to benefit from your skills. Volunteer work can be done in just about any subject; it just takes a bit of extra effort from students to find the right place to volunteer. The benefits of volunteering aren’t just for college applications; they can last a lifetime.
- Socialize more. By socialize, we don’t mean go to all the high school parties or talk during class time. To socialize is to connect with other students. High schoolers can get social by joining a club or organization that they’re interested in. Joining student government allows students to make an impact on their school community and develop leadership skills. Honors societies can be great for networking with others, celebrating achievement, and connecting with more opportunities for community service. Joining the debate team or Model UN can help with speaking and research skills in addition to giving some practice in competition. There are also many clubs connected to music, drama, art, or other hobbies. Joining a club can help a student learn leadership skills or make more friends. Does your high school not have a club that you want to join? Why not start one with a strong mission statement and purpose?
- Play sports. Participating in sports—whether it’s your high school team, a travel team, or a local organization—is not only a great way to stay healthy and fit, it’s also such a good arena for leadership, friendship, and achievement. Sports can teach teamwork, time management, and a value for excellence. It’s great to play on some of the more conventional high school sports teams like baseball, softball, football, or basketball. However, if your school doesn’t have a sport you like, there are communities outside of school that are built around recreational sports. What if you—a high schooler—joined the pickleball craze? Perhaps you like to spend free time at the beach; you could start a surf club, a beach volleyball club, or a boogie boarding team. Not everyone can be an MVP in a sport. The idea is to get involved, to be active, and to enjoy some of the great benefits from being part of a team.
- Get to work. So many places these days are hiring. For high schoolers, taking on a small part-time job can be a great way to earn money and to gain invaluable experience. Seek out jobs that align with your interests or goals. You can inquire at local museums or libraries, restaurants or sports organizations, or anywhere you want to work. Working can help students to manage their schedules, to take on responsibility, and to learn about the value of a dollar. Not all jobs have to be paying jobs. For students who are looking for more academic or subject-specific work, internships are a great way to learn about a certain field or to simply gain work experience. Local magazines and newspapers, universities, or even doctor’s offices might be places to inquire about interning, researching, or shadowing opportunities. The experience you gain from a job can be priceless.
- Workshop it. Somewhere near you right now, there are conferences and workshops happening. Conferences and workshops are a great way for high school students to connect with people who share similar academic interests. At events like these, students can learn new skills, network with other students, professors, and professionals, and gain knowledge and experience in a subject they like. Conferences often feature speakers, classes, and activities that focus on specific subjects such as science (AI, aerospace, environment), arts (theatre, digital, media), politics, culture, or education. The key is to seek out and find a conference or workshop that you’re super interested in. For the purpose of your college application, attendance at interest-specific workshops or conferences can demonstrate that you are actively pursuing higher education. College Ready has a wealth of resources on summer workshops and courses that students can attend.
Building a strong list of extracurricular activities is possible, although it can seem overwhelming. Reach out to the experts at College Ready for help with every step of the college application process—from creating a college list to writing your admissions essay to building that great list of extracurriculars.