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How important are extracurricular activities in the college application process?

Simply: extracurricular activities are at least as important as students have been told—especially when it comes to private school admissions. In a previous post, I gave a rough illustration of how admissions works at a school like Stanford University.

  • Of 47,450 applications, around 37,960 will possess the academic qualifications necessary to succeed. But only 2,000 students will end up getting accepted!

This means that Stanford will deny admission to around 35,960 academically qualified students: students with near-perfect GPAs and stellar standardized test scores.

So what distinguishes the select 2,000 from the remaining 35,960? Extracurricular activities!

Unfortunately, this part of the college admissions process is not only highly important, it is also surrounded by a good deal of misinformation. The following series of posts will go behind the myths and explain what really catches a college’s attention and what colleges are really looking for when they examine a student’s extracurricular record.

Chapter 1

An Introductory Exercise for Parents

The key to building a successful extracurricular record is to identify a student’s genuine interests. This post will give students and their parents the information they need to develop their extracurricular profiles.

Chapter 2

What Admissions Officers Look for in Extracurricular Activities

Colleges want a community that embraces diversity. Extracurricular records give admissions officers a sense of a student’s unique interests.

Chapter 3

The Importance of Planning Ahead

It is crucial for students to develop their extracurricular profile throughout high school. Here is a guide of what you should aim for at various stages of the process.

Chapter 4

Summer Activities to Boost Your College Application

Summers are obviously the only extensive blocks of free time students have. This means that summers must be wisely spent and carefully planned for.

Chapter 5

Advice for Freshmen (and Middle School Students)

Freshmen (and younger students) have their whole futures ahead of them. With a little foresight and the right advice, they can create an ideal high school experience for themselves.

Chapter 6

Advice for Sophomores

Sophomores have a lot more to juggle than freshman, but they still have some time and freedom to figure out where their passions lie.

Chapter 7

Advice for Juniors

One of the main things that colleges look for in a student is consistency and commitment. As a junior, students can still do things to maximize their chances of getting accepted to their dream college.

Chapter 8

Advice for Seniors

It is important for seniors to make sure that they continue pursuing some of the activities they have developed thus far in order to show consistency and continuity.
Thinking about colleges and extracurricular activities is stressful. Parents can use this process as an opportunity to help their children discover their true interests and abilities.
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