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Colleges look at more than just grades and SAT or ACT scores when reviewing a student's application. They want to know what your child does outside the classroom, too.

Fast Facts

  • Extracurricular activities include any activity your child’s involved in that isn’t directly related to their coursework.
  • Colleges look at a student's activities for signs of leadership, initiative, a willingness to take risks, etc.
  • Colleges also want to know about students' internships, volunteer work, or part-time jobs.
  • A student's level of involvement is more important than how many activities they participate in. Make sure your child doesn’t overextend themselves.

More Than Hobbies

Colleges are interested in your child’s activities because they provide a clearer picture of who your child is and what their strengths are.

For example, if your child is captain of the football team or the editor of the school newspaper, they’re displaying strong leadership skills.

Many activities your child enjoys can enhance their college applications. If they love to make pottery and create new bowls every week, this shows dedication, persistence, and creativity.

Jobs and Volunteer Work

If your child has a part-time job or does volunteer work, make sure they include it on their application.

Holding down a job while going to school or during summer break shows that your child is responsible and has strong time management skills. Students need those traits to be successful in college.

Similarly, doing volunteer work—like stocking shelves at a food pantry or reading to preschoolers—is a good indication of a student’s involvement in their community. This shows colleges that the student will be an active, valuable participant in campus life.

Read More About It
For Students: Character Counts
For Students: Extracurriculars Matter

Frequently Asked Questions