Are Extracurriculars Important For A Undergraduate Application?

posted at May 5, 2022, 4:23 p.m.


So you’re applying to study at an institution. A solid academic profile should do, shouldn’t it? Apparently, no.

With the competition in the admission processes rising every year, extracurriculars have become an important factor to differentiate and thus, judging people against hordes of applicants. In this article, we explore why extracurriculars need more thought than it being ‘just another prompt’ in your college application.

Why do extracurriculars need your focus?

While the admission committee expects you to paint a picture that fits both your academic and personal profile, the proportion of focus on the former and latter differs according to the degree. UG college applications seek to gauge the overall personality of the applicant rather than focusing just on the academic profile of the student.

Think about it. You’re just out of high school; the world is your alleged oyster. What do you do with yourself? How do you decide what to do with yourself? Where do you wish to insert yourself in the larger scheme of things?

Your academic profile will be more or less comparable to that of others. Extracurriculars, however, are where you can demonstrate:

  1. How do you filter the world and the issues that are thriving in it, at any given point in time?
  2. How do you choose to use tools (including yourself) at your disposal to deal with those issues? What’s the end-game for you?

If you noticed, there’s an (over)emphasis on the act of ‘choosing’. Essentially, extracurriculars are activities that you choose to invest your time and energy in, apart from the time that you have to spend on your academics. Extracurriculars engage you in a more holistic way than academics since they can subsume activities that involve time, space, body, and mind. It is this underlying matrix that the selection committee takes stock of. Here’s a peek into different kinds of extracurriculars that can amp up your college application.

Community-bound - Clubs/Teams/Volunteering/Leadership positions

As a high school student, you have a lot going on personally, too. Membership in any club (academic or otherwise) goes on to show that even beyond the classroom, you choose to spend time on activities that bring together people that share cognitive skills. Like any other community that thrives on team activities, membership in such clubs demonstrates that the candidate is not only comfortable with collaboration but is also an active team player. These are some of the qualities that the selection committee looks out for since these traits can eventually be chiseled into leadership skills.

Time-bound - Internships/Summer schools abroad/Part-time jobs

Internships have always been a go-to engagement that not only adds to your skillset but also shows that even as a high-schooler you’ve exposed yourself to professional settings, have gained critical thinking skills, and have put yourself in positions where you were either challenged or challenged yourself.

Space-bound - Athletic pursuits

Involvement in sports, in general, shows grit. Playing a sport demonstrates team spirit, drive, and ability to focus. While these characteristics can be developed via a lot of other activities, sports have the power to inculcate them all at once.

Passion Project: the buzzword

No matter what your age, if you’re looking to engage with something, anything constructively while also hoping that that engagement can be converted into something decorative, you will come across something called a ‘passion project’. A passion project is an independent endeavor that allows you to use your skills and interests to the fullest. A project can be as big or as small as you want it to be, and it’s fun to see what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it! Pro athletes, world-class musicians, and other highly skilled individuals often attribute their success to their passion projects. Nonetheless, you don’t have to be perfect at what you’re setting out to do to take on a passion project. More than anything, a passion project shows perseverance.


One of the most difficult parts of being a high schooler is balancing your extracurriculars with your schoolwork. Maintaining a high percentage that can be converted into a high GPA requires a lot of time and energy, and it’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough of either to go around. But if you want to get ahead, you’ll have to find ways to prioritize your extracurriculars. Having a schedule where your extracurriculars are first, your schoolwork second, and your time last isn’t always realistic, but making time to attend your practices and stay involved in your clubs and organizations is worth the effort.

At the end of the day, colleges and universities want students who will take their name forward, go on to become future leaders, and potentially change the world one act at a time. At the end of the day, they’re looking for a spark as well as the kindle that you choose to keep it alive!