Extracurriculars: The Porridge Approach

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Extracurriculars: The Porridge Approach

Written by Melinda, Fun Super Tutor for Enhanced Prep

You remember the story: there was Golidilocks, there were three bears, and there was a whole lot of inedible porridge. Well, it was edible, just not ideal. Some porridge was too cold and some was too hot, but only one bowl was just right.

(Side note: for the purposes of this metaphor, we’ll go ahead and ignore the part where Goldilocks gets scared off by the bears and runs away, never to be seen again. Not relevant…and also mildly terrifying). 

You’re perhaps a few years removed from your fairytale-reading days, but the story still applies, especially for students navigating the college admissions process.

As college admissions have become increasingly competitive, the formula for an application that is “just right” perhaps feels more and more elusive. When considering GPA, standardized tests, and essays – the other major players in a college application – the impact extracurriculars can have on an admissions decision may feel difficult to pinpoint. You know they’re important, but just how much can they tip the scale? And if their value is so great, exactly how can you figure out what extracurriculars colleges want to see? 

The truth is: “just right” is personal. What’s just right for your application is what’s just right for you. Passion is easy to spot in an application, and colleges are simply interested in seeing what you do with the resources that are available in your environment. Schools want to know what excites you, and how you maximize your time and potential. 

So how can you apply to colleges with extracurricular that are “just right?” 

If you’re just starting high school, think about the things you enjoy doing in your free time. What brings you joy? What can you do for hours on end and still find exciting? If you’re not sure, try things out – and then hone in on the activity or activities that drive you to learn more about yourself, and to seek out increased responsibilities and leadership positions.

If you’re already in the application process and feel as though you’re coming in too hot (with too many) or too cold (with too few), all is not lost! 

Finding a way to meaningfully contribute to your growth and your community doesn’t necessarily take years. Just remember to focus on quality over quantity – and get involved! Also consider the fact that “extracurricular” includes any activity outside of those that contribute to school credit. Even jobs or helping out at home count, activities that may have given you the perfect opportunities to demonstrate the leadership skills colleges want to see. 

The key is being able to talk about how your activities have changed you and how they’ve allowed you to make a difference – whether over the course of months or years. 

Remember – your application is your chance to show yourself off to colleges. Take pride in what you’ve done, and boost your application with that “just right” extracurricular porridge!

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