Which High School Extracurriculars Are Right For Your Child?

Here are a few reasons your student might benefit from (and enjoy) the various categories of extracurriculars.

Extracurricular Activities

You already know why admissions committees want to know about extracurricular activities, and how to up the intensity. Now let’s talk about ECs from the point of view of the one participating – your kid!

There are all sorts of activities out there, so today we’ll dig in to see what your student can gain from various types of ECs. We’ll go through some examples and talk about what categories tend to complement one another well. Here goes!

1. Sports

Arguably the most ubiquitous of extracurricular activities, don’t write off sports. Joining a sports team requires dedication and builds teamwork skills like cooperation and communication. With commitment comes improvement, allowing players to move through various roles on the team and eventually into leadership positions. Being on a sports team demonstrates that students work well with their peers and can communicate in multiple modalities.

Bonus points:
Students get a great workout + stress relief, and recognition for individual and team achievements

Club or intramural teams; freshman, junior varsity or varsity teams of any sport

Also explore:
Student government, special-interest clubs, community service

2. Community Service

A huge range of activities. Service opportunities can arise from clubs organized at school, community groups outside of school or volunteer opportunities that a student seeks out on their own. Service is a great way to supplement classroom learning and help students understand the real-life application of what they’re studying. Benefits of volunteering include team-building skills like cooperation and problem-solving, and tangible skill sets such as gardening or working with children.

Bonus points:
Learn new skills, work with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet

Volunteer at a public library or food bank, work with an organization like Best Buddies, join a community service club in your high school. Check out dosomething.org for more great ideas!

Also explore:
Student government, activity-based clubs, academic clubs

3. Student Organizations

Another vague one… Organizations that are run by students with some intention of creating positive impact within the school. Student government, National Honors Society and student publications allow students to work together for the advancement of the whole student body. By taking up leadership positions to work for specific goals, students learn time management and long-term planning, and work for the needs of their school community.

Bonus points:
Work towards a community goal, become a leader among peers

Student government, school publications, National Honors Society, Key Club, 4-H

Also explore:
Community service, academic clubs, special-interest clubs

Academic Clubs

In any club with an academic bent students supplement classroom learning and develop academic skills that will be invaluable in college. They can explore specific topics in extra detail, or learn about a broader range of topics than they usually would. Students develop skills like public speaking and academic writing and discussion, giving them a huge leg up when they reach college classrooms.

Bonus points:
Public speaking (!!!), awards and recognition for academic achievement

Debate Club, Academic Decathlon, Math Team, Model UN, Science Olympiad

Also explore:
Student organizations, community service, special-interest clubs

Performing Arts

No lie, high school performing arts get a bad rap – they’re often ill-attended and under-funded. In truth, high school performing arts are extra special because the people involved have to really care about what they’re doing. They bring passion, dedication and a desire to include anyone who’s interested.

Students who participate gain self-confidence, hone a personal craft over years of practice and become part of a community dedicated to its own promotion and preservation.

Bonus points:
Share your work with others who appreciate it, hone your craft alongside your peers

Drama club, slam poetry team, a musical instrument, dance team, theatre performance

Also explore:
Community service, special-interest clubs

Special-Interest Clubs

Many high schools have clubs for almost anything – anime/manga, old English literature, queer-straight alliance, international cooking club, et cetera. A special-interest club is a great way for students to supplement other activities, or take a leadership position in an area they are passionate about.

These clubs tend to be more freeform than others, with activities dependent on who’s in the club and what they want to do. Such structure – or lack thereof – gives students ample opportunity to take initiative and plan an event or project alongside their peers.

Bonus points:
Freedom to participate as you choose, meet others who share your interests.

Literally anything!

Also explore:
Community service, performing arts, sports, academic clubs, student organizations.

All in all, high school (and especially freshman year) is the time for your kid to explore every interest they may have! Share this information with them and work together to figure out what they DO and DON’T enjoy. Don’t hold back!

Need some help with a college application? That’s what we’re here for!

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