by Meilin Obinata
WHAT IS A MEANINGFUL EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY?
Many extracurricular activities can be “meaningful” if you can honestly say that you pursued the activity with a sense of purpose. As you choose what you will spend your time doing, think about what is motivating you to do what you do?
PASSION: The activity is about doing something that relates to what I already like to do
HELPING: I can offer my skills / resources or even teach/lead others
CONNECTING: I want to meet new people
LEARNING: I can develop new skills or knowledge
IMAGE: Choose it because of “looks good for college”
CONFORMITY: All my friends are doing it
The better the reasons you are choosing what you are doing, the more likely you will commit to the activity and grow as a person.
Family-Related - you might not consider these “extra” because your family might be asking you to take on these responsibilities. I am including these in here because colleges recognize the leadership characteristics inherent to these activities.
Caregiving for an Elderly / Unwell Relative
Caregiving for Younger Siblings
Working in the Family Business
School Service - these are some activities that you can carry out to help your school or fellow students.
School / Local Science Fair (participant, judge, etc.)
Synopsys Science Fair (preparation for)
Local Youth Orchestra
School Marching Band
DIY Music Group
Competing in DECA
Competing in FBLA
YMCA Youth in Government
Humanities & Culture
Many of the ones in this category are great candidates for starting up your own club, if one of these does not exist in your high school already, since they combine a personal passion / interest that your peers might share
Hip Hop Dance
Local Community TV Channel
Gender & Sexualities Alliance
Community Service & Causes
Local Youth Committee
Church Youth Group Leader
Habitat for Humanity
Local homeless shelter
Local soup kitchen
Local animal shelter
Local battered womens’ shelter
Local hospital volunteering
Boys & Girls Club
- these are especially great if you are a CAPTAIN or are performing at a very high level
School (Junior Varsity, Varsity, etc.)
Private League (if competitive)
- to counteract some of the pressure students face in high school, I’ve noticed that some students are starting up clubs or joining classes that help them de-stress
If you have extra time in high school, that means you can take on an extracurricular activity! My recommendation is that you test them out to seek what you can truly commit to doing on a regular basis for as much of your high school career as possible. The deeper you go, the more you will have an opportunity to build skills, knowledge and maturity - all things that will help you truly grow.