How Important Are Co-Curriculars on a College Application?

When selecting prospective students for admission, admissions counselors primarily look at your standardized test scores, courses you’ve taken, and grades. After that, they mostly want to learn about what makes you you. They want to know what kind of person you are—what interests you and how you’ll fit into the student body.

Colleges care a lot about the quality of person they admit and often look at what you do in your spare time to gain some insight. Whether you’re a math tutor, part of a badminton club, pack lunches for kids from low-income households, belong to a 4-H club, or play basketball—all of these activities and how they’ve shaped you are of interest to college admissions counselors.

What Matters Most

When listing your co-curriculars, it’s important to remember one thing: colleges place more value on the quality of your experiences vs. quantity. For example, you might explain how being in choir for four years has sparked your interest in music, gave you an opportunity to be creative, or make new friends. Or if you held a position on the student council, you could mention how it made you feel more comfortable when leading a group.

Non-School Activities Count, Too

Aside from school-organized activities, you could list an after-school job or volunteer experience. For example, a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) may have helped you with multitasking or setting priorities. Or, maybe your volunteer work at a library solidified your interest in working with youth.

In addition to jobs or volunteer work, you may consider listing some hobbies. For instance, do you do yoga? You could mention how it taught you relaxation techniques. Do you enjoy playing video games? Name how it’s helped develop hand/eye coordination or mental concentration to complete a task.  

Can’t Think of One Co-Curricular to Mention?

Take a few minutes to think about how you spend your time. What do you do during your lunch or after school? Maybe you and your friends play Scrabble. Are you part of an activity that happens outside of school?  Have you volunteered at a community event? It may have helped you learn how to work as a team. How do you help out at home? Maybe you spend time helping at your family’s business. Or think about what you choose to do when you have time by yourself. Maybe you write poetry, draw, or have learned how to play an instrument.

The Bottom Line

Listing your co-curriculars on a college application will not necessarily make or break your acceptance into the college of your choice. These activities and hobbies do, however, give admissions counselors insight into the unique individual that you are.

{ Return to Inside College Admissions for more posts. }

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