This is difficult to answer because it all depends on your circumstances. The Student Counsel recommends a five-step process in determining what extracurricular activities will best reflect your interests and higher-education hopes.
- Determine what you would be interested in spending a LOT of time doing. For an extracurricular activity to be effective on your college resume, it has to carry a lot of weight with it. The activity you participate in will be all the more effective the more you spend time doing it. For example, volunteering twice a year at a local fundraiser won’t be as effective as volunteering three times a month for two years at a children’s hospital. Make sure you find an activity, project, or organization that you won’t dread spending time doing.
- Availability is key when it comes to an extracurricular activity. Depending on your circumstances, you may not be able to spend a lot of time on extracurricular activities. Make sure that when picking an extracurricular you will be able to easily get to and from the extracurricular and make time to truly be a part of the activity. Signing up for marching band and simultaneously having a part-time job with conflicting times won’t work out well for you. Plan out exactly what time you have for your activity, how you will get there, and how it will conflict with your other responsibilities.
- Leader or a Follower? This is a huge question to ask yourself when deciding what you want to be a part of. In most school activities that you choose to join or volunteer activities, you decide to partake in, you will be forced to initially be a follower because you are joining a previously founded organization. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can work your way up in the organization and make an impact by having a leadership position, etc. in the future. Yet, it isn’t YOUR creation. Think about having a variety of these activities on your resume. Be a creator and a follower. For more information on this, see our posts about creative extracurriculars and mainstream extracurriculars.
- Make the Best out of it. Whatever you do, don’t just join an organization for the sake of joining an organization. Please do what you can to immerse yourself in the inner workings of the organization. Make a difference. Build networks.
- Time. Now that you have joined an organization, ensure that you track the time you spent there in order to be accurate when applying for college applications. You have to ensure that you have devoted enough time to this that you can obtain a letter recommendation from this experience. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t feel comfortable enough to ask for a letter of recommendation, you probably haven’t devoted enough time to the extracurricular activity.