Extracurricular Activities

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It’s not enough that college admission boards require a personal statement; they also want you to write the “Describe your extracurricular activities essay.” Even if you included your extracurriculars within your application, there is no reason to miss this extra opportunity to make yourself stand out among hundreds of others. Extracurricular activities essays are extra valuable if you’re shooting for the top universities, as they pay more attention to your achievement beyond academia than state colleges.

First, let’s set the record straight. What is an example of extracurricular activities? These may include anything from your charity and volunteer work to your place on a high school sports team, drama club, or orchestra. Anything you’re passionate about that you’ve invested time in and that’s produced valuable results for your or the community, you can include in your essay on extracurricular activities. For instance, building a Lego Death Star model may fit the first two criteria but not the third one, so it’s not the best choice for your application. 

Second, application essay topics related to extracurricular activities may be camouflaged with clever metaphors or pretty phrases, like ‘the expression of your creativity’ or ‘community contribution’. While you may fill these prompts with reports of your in-class victories, the admission board will be looking for your experiences beyond school walls. These may demonstrate soft skills you gained that would be valuable for your college of choice.

Third, treat this piece as you would your college admission essay. That means editing and proofreading religiously until you’re sure you’ve weeded out every typo and error. Format the paper to make it look professional and easy to read and do not exceed the required word count. These tiny details add up like puzzle pieces to generate a first impression about you, and you want it to be positive.

What Are the Common Extracurricular Activities Essay Topics?

What is an extracurricular activities essay, if not your chance to demonstrate another facet of your personality and experience to provide extra proof you’re the perfect fit for your dream school? To that end, you should address the question posed within the essay prompt. Some schools make it tricky by losing the word “activity” from their prompts, but if they want you to share your track record outside academia, they are interested in your extracurriculars, not your family or hobbies.

Still, if all you get is a request for an essay about activities with no specific requirements, you can choose one of two winning strategies:

  1. Problem-solution narration. In this case, you should start your story with a problem and explain its effects on your community, then offer a solution and describe how you implemented it. Round up the narrative focusing on why your input was critical and the impact the solution had on the community.

  2. Unconventional take on common interests. Your essay on activities still has a chance to stand out even if you write about football or playing the violin. Instead of listing the same stale qualities these activities promote, find two or three unconventional examples, connect them with logical transitions and get extra points for demonstrating the value of the newfound experience in class. For instance, you can detail how your football practices made you appreciate the attention to detail, while the games trained your compartmentalization skills that are invaluable when preparing for and taking tests.

Here are a few topics developed using these strategies:

  1. Describe your experience running for class president or student council.

  2. Tell a story of starting a volunteer community in your school.

  3. Write about your initiative to reduce plastic waste in your neighborhood.

  4. Explain how music lessons taught you the patience and creativity vital for your future teaching career.

  5. Detail your experiences as a reporter for a school paper and how they turned you into a great listener. 

If you’re still staring at a blank file with no idea where to start, check out an example of an essay about extracurricular activities in our collection. Browsing a sample or three should give you a better understanding of what’s expected of you. As long as you do not turn research into an excuse to procrastinate, you’re sure to get a good idea or two from fellow students.

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