Jul 31

Choosing Extracurriculars For High School

Most of your high school experience has structure – meaning you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to what, when, and how you do something regarding academics. Because of this lack of variety, your college applications may not be as interesting as you want. This is where extracurriculars come in. Extracurriculars are similar to food in that, you can eat something bland just to stay alive, or you can add a bit of variety to keep things interesting. Here’s how you can use extracurriculars to add a little spice to your college applications:

Why Extracurriculars Are Important 

Extracurriculars and electives are classes, clubs, or activities that aren’t required for graduation credit. Here’s how they can help:

– reveal your strengths and unique character (leadership, dedication etc)

– reduce stress and boredom

– show off your talents

– allow you to learn more about yourself (because let’s face it, we all have things to learn about ourselves)

– provide you with real-world experience

All this information is vital to your college application because they not only provide insight into you as a person but they also relate how you can contribute to the college campus. 

What Should You Look For in an Extracurricular


Have you heard of the phrase: “you are what you eat”? The same can be said for your extracurriculars. Here is the list of ingredients you need to make the best extracurricular choices: 

What can you both enjoy and care about?

Finding an extracurricular that you enjoy is a good start but coupling it with something that fulfills you emotionally would be ideal.  Finding this balance is crucial; you want to show admissions officers that you’re dedicated and experienced to your extracurricular activity. Want to take it a bit further? Commit to a leadership role. Some examples of such activities could include volunteering at a local senior center, joining an investment club, or leading a community service project.

Explore something new or challenging

Choosing an activity, club, or program that’s unfamiliar or challenging can show your bravery, determination, and willingness to learn. They will also help you develop essential life skills like goal setting, teamwork, time management, problem-solving and critical thinking. Nothing ventured is nothing gained. The worst thing that could happen when trying something new is that you don’t want to continue doing it – if this happens, at least you’ve learned something new about yourself!

Participate in something either useful to you or others

Activities that involve helping others or improving yourself in some way will help you grow as a person, gain confidence, and develop a wide range of skills all while exposing you to communities, opinions, and experiences different from your own. By doing something that benefits others you will see and feel the results of your work, which will have a positive impact on you as a person. 

Find an activity that offers real-world experience

This type of activity will help you thrive in the working world, giving you appropriate experience and life lessons that will carry you through your adulthood and career. How do you find an extracurricular that can provide you with real-world experiences? 

– Choose something similar to the college majors that interest you

Look for extracurriculars that are closely related to the majors you want to study in college. They will help grow your experience and develop the skills required in that field.

– Or if you are not sure of your majors…

Explore a variety of extracurriculars and try to choose unique, unfamiliar, or usual ones. You never know, you may find a few you love so much that they help you decide on a few college majors.

Bonus: If you can’t find a club you like – create your own!

If there are certain things you are interested in doing but can’t find a club to support those interests, then seek out like-minded individuals and start your own club. This will show college admissions officers initiative, leadership, creativity, and individuality.

Remember: For college admissions committees to take your extracurriculars seriously, you need to display your level of dedication, how the extracurricular has molded your idea of responsibility, and whether you have learned about what it takes to be a good leader. Ultimately, you will need to show how the activity has affected you positively as a person and student. 

What’s on the Extracurricular Menu?

More isn’t always better! Choose quality extracurriculars over quantity as a few excellent choices will both enhance your college applications and improve your emotional well-being. Here are a few examples of ~Prime~, Grade A extracurriculars:

Student Government

Being involved in student government is a sure-fire way to get noticed by the college of your choice as it demonstrates your leadership and organizational skills, proves your ability to work well within a team, shows that you care about your fellow students, and emphasizes that you want to be proactive and make positive changes in the world. Student government is also great for your career aspirations because it helps you develop skills and gain experience that are invaluable in a multitude of industries.

Academic teams or clubs 

Writing for your school’s newspaper, contributing to the yearbook, or joining the mathletes, debate team, or a tech club like Tokyo Coding Club are excellent ways to highlight the skills, abilities and personality traits sought after by colleges. Students involved with such activities will also be better at articulating their ideas, conflict resolution, and negotiation.

Specialized High School / Summer Programs 

These will allow you to explore a future career, develop leadership skills, and get a taste of college life. As well as demonstrate your perseverance, and intellectual abilities. 

If you are looking for examples of such programs Tokyo Academics offers an amazing high school research program through which students have published their research in academic journals and presented their findings at international conferences. (Impressive for high school students, isn’t it) 

Theatre and the Arts

The creativity involved in these activities is considered an asset by most colleges because it adds an eccentric and confident vibe to their student body. Choosing an extracurricular in the arts can make for a more flexible and creative high school experience as it embraces freedom and passion.

Part-time / Summer Jobs, Internships, Volunteer Work, or Culture clubs

Any work-related activity, whether paid or unpaid, is an impressive, must-have feature for a college resume, especially if you can secure an internship, job or undertake volunteer work that’s closely related to the majors you wish to study or the career you hope to have. Attempting to be a part of the working world and wanting to help those around you speaks volumes about who you are and what you can do.

The Last Word

While extracurriculars will give you that extra edge with your college applications, it’s important to note that whatever extracurricular you choose you will develop a variety of important skills, add meaning to your high school experience, and have many unforgettable moments! 

Good Luck and Stay Safe!

Tokyo Academics is Japan’s leader in standardized testing prep and academic tutoring. We offer an extensive array of 1-on-1 tutoring and academic and technology classes. Our highly-qualified team works with the most driven English-speaking students in Tokyo, combining innovative curriculum with technology to prepare students for top international boarding schools and universities. Visit our site to learn more about how we can help you achieve academic success, choose amazing extracurriculars and get to your dream schools!

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