Saturday, November 15, 2008

Extracurricular Activities: How to prepare yourself for college beyond your academic life

Hey there, it's John again. There are several things colleges look for in their applicants besides GPA and test scores. One thing that may set you far above the other applicants is the extent to which you are involved. I just want to tell you a little bit about the types of Extracurricular Activities I recommend and provide some examples of the types of groups I was involved in during high school. I will separate this into two categories: Extracurricular groups and volunteer work.

EXTRACURRICULAR GROUPS: These groups include academic clubs (Quiz Bowl, Math Club, Science Olympiads, etc.), sports teams (football, basketb
all, etc.), service oriented clubs (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.), and religious oriented groups (Youth Groups, missionary groups, etc.). If you can obtain high level positions in these organizations, they will help advance your chances of success in the admissions process. The more variety you can fill yourself with, the more you will stand out in the application process. For example, someone who has a high GPA and is only involved in academic clubs will be no better off than someone with a relatively high GPA that is involved in academic clubs, sports teams, and service oriented clubs.

Some of the clu
bs and positions I served in during high school include Boy Scouts - Assistant Scoutmaster; Student Government - President; Beta Club - President; Quiz Bowl; Tennis Team; Soccer Team; Drama Club; Crossfire Youth Group; Advisor to the Superintendent. These are just some examples of the types of groups I recommend. This list represents a good variety of the aforementioned types of groups.

VOLUNTEER WORK: This is something that colleges pay special attention to even though it is an uncommon occurrence on applications. When filling out your applications for college, be sure to include ALL of your prior volunteer service. This can be service through religious affiliated groups, service oriented groups, or just volunteer projects that you design. If you have not yet done any service, it is not too late. Just get out there t
oday, think about what your community needs, and act soon! Volunteer work can be as simple as collecting food for your local food pantry or as in depth as repairing homes.

Some of the volunteer work I included in my college applications include: Planning food drives for the local food pantries, going on mission trips to other states and helping repair dilapidated homes, holding voter registration drives in local high schools to register students for the upcoming elections, and erecting a flag pole, dedication site, and handicap accessible sidewalk in my local park for my Eagle Scout service project. These different types of service amount for over 300 hours and helped me get accepted into Cornell University.

These are just some suggestions of the types of activities you should get involved with while you still have the chance. My SAT score was well below average for the colleges and universities I applied to, yet I was still accepted. If not for these various groups and multiple service activities, I probably would not have gained admittance into certain prestigious universities.

Cornell University - Balch Arch


  1. So, right now I am only in Quiz bowl. I don't like sports and my grades are only mediocre. I would really love to get into Duke University. What types of clubs do you recommend I join?

    By the way, nice picture.

  2. Hey. As John said, you should participate in a variety of clubs. I would highly recommend joining volunteer organizations, like Habitat for Humanity or EMS. Try to get involved and have an active part. Volunteering is great because there are boundless opportunities and shows good moral character.

  3. What does one need to do to start a quiz bowl at their school?

  4. Well, you start a quiz bowl "team" at your school.

    First, do some research on what the quiz bowl is, and for which ones your school is eligible (i.e., if there are any competitions close to you). Your best bet would be google, or by asking friends from other schools in your area who participate in such activities, or if you're ambitious enough, by calling other schools in your area who you know are involved with such competitions.

    Second, you'll want to generate some interest in your school for a quiz bowl team. Tell your friends that it's a fun, academic challenge. Once you have enough student support, then ask a teacher to be an adviser for your team.

    The teacher should be willing to hold interest meetings after school. You will need to work with him/her to register your school for events, work out the details with your principal, and apply for busing.

    If your teacher adviser is rather ambitious (and you're lucky), then he may perhaps take care of all these details. It's important for him to see that there's interest in the team.

    Once you get a team started up and are registered for an event, then hold meetings to prepare for the event. Find out on what kinds of material the competition is based, and prepare.

    It's a lot of work, but if you decide to start one, then your school will probably have a team for many years thereafter.

    Best of luck,