When it finally comes time to have the discussion of what comes after high school, students and parents alike begin to question: Are we doing enough? What else can we do? Schools are not looking for a student who is simply studious; these days, it takes more than a high SAT score and a 4.0 GPA to get into a top-tier school.
Become a well-rounded student: Although a high GPA and good scores on the SATs are important, colleges want to see that their applicants are well-rounded people, who are about more than simply studying. How you spend your time speaks to your priorities and character, and they want to make sure that you share the same priorities that the college values.
Choose one or two primary activities: Schools want to see that you have invested yourself in your passions, and grown into leadership roles. You can toss in some other extracurriculars as well, but don't overwhelm yourself with more than five or six total extracurricular activities throughout high school.
Craft an image: While you're choosing extracurricular activities, make sure you're crafting a picture for these schools, a paper trail of whomever you'd like to be. If you want to get into a school that focuses on drama, then be a part of drama club at school, volunteer at the local theater, and make sure that all of those with whom you've worked will be ready to give a strong recommendations.
Collegeboard.org listed the following types of extracurricular activities as viable options:
- School Activities: sports teams, clubs, and student government,
- Community Activities: sport's teams, theater, and clubs,
- Work: internships, part-time jobs, and even babysitting,
- Volunteering: tutoring, helping at church, or a charity.
Don't overwhelm yourself, and keep it simple. Make sure that you genuinely enjoy your extracurricular activities. If you're trying to pursue this stuff through college and career, it makes sense that your passion should fuel the work in which you're choosing to invest.
Tie it together: Once it comes time to start applying for college, it's also time to craft a vision that allows the admissions committee to see how all of the experiences tie together. The diverse array of experiences have helped form and develop passions and experiences that colleges are specifically looking to recruit. Most colleges and universities explicitly state what they are looking for in applicants. Thus, it makes sense to tailor applications and essays to emphasize the experiences and educational backgrounds that the schools are specifically seeking in their applicants.
For more information on what specific colleges are looking for in applications, refer to the specific college and university websites.
UC System Universities
Work With the Academic Dean: If available, it's wise to work with an academic guidance department to help develop the best strategy to get into a first-choice school. Academic deans spend their days developing strategies with students to get into their school of choice and can help guide students and parents to schools and academic plans that will fit with their strengths and schedules. Tri-City Christian School provides academic guidance and college counselling to help students navigate the stressful and sometimes-turbulent waters in college.
For more information on how you can prepare for college, contact our Academic Dean and Secondary College Counselor, Cindy Warner.