Most colleges encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities during high school. Letting colleges know about your favorite activities outside of school not only shows them that you’re a well-rounded student, but also tells them a little about your personality.
But not every extracurricular activity is sponsored through school or the local community. Some might even be hard to describe in just a few words. For instance, maybe you play drums in a band or maybe you spend your free-time fixing up old cars. You could be an active blogger or enjoy making and editing home-videos.
How do you let colleges know about these unofficial extracurricular activities? Here are 3 ways to handle this situation as you apply to college.
1. Mention Them on the Application
As you begin the college application process, one of the first things you’ll notice is that there are lots of different application forms. While some colleges will use the Common App, others will use a version that is uniquely their own.
What does this mean when it comes to listing your unofficial extracurricular? No matter what application colleges use, there will always be a section for extracurricular activities, but it may or may not be open-ended.
If the “extracurricular activities” spot is blank and you can fill it in as needed, this is a great opportunity to list and describe any unofficial extracurricular activities you take part in, including building computers in your free time, baking for fun, or photography. Basically, you should list any activities that you think colleges would value or that would help them get to know you better.
You might find, however, that the college application you are filling in requires you to choose your extracurricular activities from a preexisting list. If your activity of choice isn’t all that common, you might not find it listed. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t another place on the application where you can discuss your favorite pastime.
As you continue to complete the application, keep an eye out for any fill-in-the-blank spots that may be labeled “additional information about you” or something similar. This is the perfect opportunity for you to write a sentence or two describing what you do in your spare time.
2. Include This Information in Your Personal Statement
If there is nowhere on the college application to list your unofficial extracurricular activities, your next best bet is to discuss them in your essay. This is an especially good idea if the activity in question has helped you become who you are now, since it will be easy to write about it using enough detail and passion to impress the admissions team.
Granted, if writing about the activities you enjoy won’t exactly fulfill the requirements for the personal statement, you might want to avoid mentioning them in the essay. After all, it’s better to write a powerful essay about a topic that you can do some justice than try to squeeze in a random mention of your favorite unofficial extracurricular activities.
But that still doesn’t mean the college admissions team will need to go without ever knowing about the unofficial extracurricular activities that make you happy in high school. You still have one more way to talk about them, though it might mean waiting until the final phase of the application process.
3. Talk About Them in Your Interview
A lot of colleges require at least one interview during the application process. And even those that don’t require an interview, usually still offer it as an optional component. If you haven’t been able to mention your unofficial extracurricular yet, this might be your chance.
Just as with the personal statement, make sure the mention of your after school activities makes sense in context and will strengthen your application. There’s probably no reason to talk about your love of building robots when the interviewer asks why you want to go to that college – unless it’s because the school has an amazing robotics program.
If you’re nervous that your interviewer won’t ask you a question that directly relates to your unofficial extracurricular activity, rest assured that before saying goodbye they are very likely to ask if there is anything else you feel they should know about you. And if that isn’t the perfect lead-in, I don’t know what is.
What activities do you participate in outside the classroom? Let us know in the comments below!