Want a well-rounded college application? Join the club.

All college applicants have heard that their applications absolutely have to be “well-rounded”. But what does that even mean? Luckily, our friends at NextStepU.com are here to show us how “well-rounded” isn’t the same for everyone, and how to make it work for you.

Sometimes when you are researching colleges, it seems like you need either a 4.0 GPA or a 2400 on the SAT to be taken seriously as an applicant. And it is true that admissions counselors expect a lot from you. But if you aren’t a straight A student, there are still ways you can grab their attention. Extracurricular activities are excellent ways for you set yourself apart from the hundreds of other applications that counselors must sift through. The way I see it, there are two main options when it comes to extracurriculars:

  •  Join every club, team and organization that interests you. Do a little bit of work for each of them.


  • Join one or two clubs, teams and organizations (or a combo of the two) and fully commit to them. (That means be a leader, spend a lot of your non-school time with them, and be one of the best members.)

If you picked the first option, admissions counselors will see that you are social, capable of time management and have a strong sense of community and service. Those are all components that make an ideal college student. Also, the admissions counselor might see past your lower GPA and assume you will be the next Mr. or Ms. [insert college name here], a.k.a. that one person in your class that is involved with everything and pops up all over campus.

If you are partial to the second option, the admissions counselors will see how dedicated and loyal are. And they will assume that if you are fully dedicated to seeing your team or volunteer work until the end then you will be equally committed to fulfilling your education. In other words, they know you are not wasting their time; when you set your mind to something, you accomplish it.

Now you might be wondering to yourself, what extracurricular you should look for or how you will manage to fit it into your schedule. Here are a few examples for you:

  • An avid jogger can join track or try out another sport for fitness.
  • An aspiring writer can form a book club or join an art group to learn about different forms of expression.
  • Someone who is already a fully committed swimmer can take chorus or band as a class to fulfill his or her interest in music.
  • A student who is busy with homework throughout the week can take the weekend to volunteer at the local animal shelter.
  • Want to be involved with the school play, but don’t have enough time to memorize lines? Help build the set and make the costumes.

With these kinds of experiences in high school, admissions counselors will see that you are a hard worker, are interested in school and excel in multiple areas. And that means much more than an imperfect GPA.


Written by Rachel Montpelier. Rachel is a senior at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. and is the editorial assistant at NextStepU.

Looking for more advice on navigating your senior year? Register at NextStepU.com and customize your path to success.



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