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Extracurriculars that Matter Most in College Admissions

When comparing applicants with equal academic profiles for a seat in the freshman class, it’s the extracurriculars on the resume that can give an edge.

LEAP advises all students, particularly those going for seats in selective colleges or programs, to carefully consider what they chose to pursue outside the classroom then be diligent in crafting their formal resume1/3 of colleges actually require or recommend students submit a resume at the time of application.

The Extracurricular Value Test

Question: How would you describe your involvement in this extracurricular activity?

AnswerThe more challenging it is to put the activity into words, typically the more value it will add to your resume.

LEAP founder, Lisa Marker Robbins, has a College & Career Clarity podcast episode on "What Extracurriculars Should Your Teen Pursue?" - take a list here. 

Unique Pursuits

These are the activities that are almost impossible to fit into the extremely limited 150 character count (spaces included!) on the Common App activities list.  They are begging to get more attention in the additional information section of the application or better yet highlighted on your resume where you have additional space to explain.

Examples of High Value Extracurriculars for High School Students

Some unique examples from LEAP students over the years…..

Start a club, make yourself the president, have a unique mission. In this example, what started as a conversation in 10th grade looking for leadership opportunities, ended up in a full-tuition scholarship. Read more about how that happened.

Another example is the Laman twins of Loveland High School who started the non-profit Adopt A Book at the age of 8 with the assistance of their parents. By 2021, they have distributed over 180,000 books to Cincinnati schools for kids without a home library. Not only has their pursuit thrived for almost a decade to date, but they are looking for a successor when they go to college – interested? Their story has made the news multiple times – think that will catch the college’s attention?

Ella not only participated in the marching band, made the competitive select band, and competed at musical competitions, but she started a used instrument drive to benefit those at an inner-city school.

Trey used the $7,000 his grandparents left him to start a scholarship fund for a student with financial need in his high school who has the potential to impact the lives of others. The scholarship fund is also set-up to be ongoing.

Another student started a lunch and learn speaker series for students considering the medical field.

What’s NOT Unique?

Tutoring students after school, playing a sport, attending a club meeting for one hour a month with no further involvement, being in a play.  I’m not saying not to do them, but limit the number of non-unique pursuits in favor of going deep with fewer unique activities. It’s better to have depth than breadth.

Having trouble getting started on the unique? Begin with the end in mind then work backward into the details or schedule a LEAP college consultation where we’ll review what you’ve been doing, what you love, your future goals then help you brainstorm the unique! Contact us for more information.

Write Your Student Resume

At LEAP we believe students should put their activities into a resume format no later than the end of 10th grade. Doing so can often give a holistic look and shine the light on gaps while there is still time to fill them before application at the beginning of the senior year. Our 1:1 college counseling clients get a customized tracking document that makes copy and paste easy for college applications. 

9th – 11th grades: Build the Resume
12th grade: Represent the Resume in your Applications

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