It's no secret that colleges are seeking students who involve themselves with activities outside the classroom. Sports, community service, and student organizations are all great ways to supplement a strong GPA. However, some students often find it challenging to identify an activity they're passionate about. Tami G. from Pine Bluff, Ark., wants to know how that specific scenario could impact her college application and if there are other ways to find groups she might find exciting:
I've heard that spending a little time with many extracurricular activities is less attractive than a ton of time with one or a few. If I haven't found an activity I'm passionate about, how can I still seem like a dedicated individual?
A: Do it for the right reasons.
Don Fraser Jr., director of education and training, National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
Remember, academics come first. Don't get involved in activities for the sake of bolstering your profile for colleges and at the expense of your grades. If you've got time but nothing to do, get out there and explore. What do you enjoy doing? Maybe there are clubs/organizations that you don't know about at your school, or perhaps interesting courses/activities offered in your community geared toward what you like. Go with a friend. Ultimately, colleges just want to know what you care about and how you choose to spend your time outside of the classroom. Get involved in order to expand your horizons, knowledge, and your network—not just for college applications.
[Learn more about applying to college.]
A: Be true to yourself! Follow your heart; explore your passions. Don't second guess the admission process.
Nancy Meislahn, dean of admissions and financial aid, Wesleyan University
Extracurricular activities in high school should be a time to learn who you are and what you enjoy, not about what admission officers want to see! When it comes to the admission process, when I read an application, I expect to see a growth and evolution from exploration and "dabbling" to real commitment, maturation, and leadership. Tell us what you do with your time and why. I want to know what's important to you—not what you think is important to me (or my school).
A: Isolating your passion is easier than you think.
Amy Swords, director of college advising, Kingswood Oxford School
A passion is just another word for expanded interest, and an interest is something that you have. So after trying different things, it is only natural that you migrate toward the things you enjoy doing and a pattern emerges. One of my students was involved with many different types of community outreach in high school where she was always helping others. She majored in anthropology and sociology in college, participated in several cross-cultural experiences abroad, coordinated programs and site visits in her college community for student volunteers and entered the Peace Corps after college. It all came together for her naturally. Don't try to create a passion; do what you love doing.
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