What makes a university or college application complete? What does the perfect application to top universities in India look like? Irrespective of the academic programmes and courses your choose to apply for be it the English language or the sciences - along with high grades in school and the entrance exam, an application full of strong extracurricular activities is considered a necessity for any student applying to a top university in India.

For students, extracurricular activities are an important part of college applications. During the evaluation of an application, students are assessed not just based on their academic achievements but also on the things they choose to pursue outside of the classroom. College admissions get a boost when you apply with a resume that reflects a holistic personality in a way that your grades and test scores can’t show.

Extracurricular involvement is an important part of not just the college admissions process, but students’ high school experience as a whole.

Whether undergraduate or postgraduate programmes and courses in English, Physics, Maths, or History, applicants can use their experience in extracurricular activities to build strong applications that appeal to the admission officers. However, how do students decide which activities will have the greatest impact on the course they apply for? While many colleges prefer students with conventional extracurricular activities, such as sports and debate, some students opt for the unconventional.

Extracurricular activities may include sports, arts, debate, clubs, and other interesting activities. | Source: Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Extracurricular Activities Depend on Your School

The extent of the impact of the extracurricular activities pursued by the applicants is usually determined by the university applied to by the students. There are different criteria laid down by different universities. Be sure to check out the relevant information on offer on the university admission page. Factors, such as class sizes and student populations can contribute to the decision-making process of the admission committee regarding their emphasis on extracurricular activities pursued by applicants.

Extracurricular Activities Depend on Students

Not just the school or university department that determines the extracurricular activities, students themselves are also responsible for making their individual profile stand out. For many students, extracurricular activities form the core of their applications, while for other applicants, it's their academic prowess.

Students who meet certain personal standards of requirements are considered for admissions. Colleges and universities are always looking out for certain personal qualities in applicants.

Exuding Passion

One of the top contenders in the list of personal qualities, admissions officers can tell the difference between an application that is stuffed with activities for the sake of filling out requirements, and those that reflect the personal level of dedication and commitment of students. Universities love passionate students. On their part, make sure you have one entry, instead of a multitude, in your application that reflects this.

Leadership Skills

Leaders are always at the vanguard of social, economic, political, as well as personal change stories. As colleges and universities are spaces for developing and creating the leaders of tomorrow, they want applications from students to reflect initiative. Leadership qualities can be inculcated at a young age, in your high school, or even at an entry level job prior to your university application. Be in charge of people and motivate them to change the status quo/ Then. list out your experiences in your college application.

Creating Impact

Has your extracurricular activity made a difference in any domain or a community of people? Have you improved on your said activity since the time you gained entry into the sphere? Have you been able to solve a problem that may have arisen during an activity?

In your activities, you can show them that you're the type of person who takes something and leaves it better than you found it.

These are some of the questions which students can ask themselves to determine whether their extracurricular activities have created an impact in any capacity - personal or community-wise. 

Students acting with passion
Passion and determination are key elements that must be reflected in your extracurricular activities. | Source: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

When you research extracurricular activities for colleges, you are likely to come up with these different types of extracurricular activities that colleges want to see.

  • Student government to demonstrate your leadership skills
  • Academic teams and clubs to demonstrate your love of learning, be it science, engineering, maths, social sciences, or the languages
  • Debate team tp demonstrate your grasp of current affairs
  • Arts, like music, drama, visual arts, and painting
  • Internships that show your dedication and willingness to work hard
  • Cultural clubs that demonstrate your openness to diversity
  • The student newspaper, especially f you are an aspiring journalist
  • A part-time or full-time job to demonstrate relevant work experience
  • Athletics to demonstrate your team spirit, leadership skills, and focus on physical fitness

So, before the deadlines run out. research your kind of activity and include them in the list of extracurriculars you have undertaken since high school.

The Perfect Extracurricular Activity Combination

While undertaking research for the most appropriate and impactful extracurricular activities in high school, there may be students who are still unsure. However, you can still make an impression during college admissions by including any of these three kinds of activities on your list.

The Academic Activity

Show the admissions officers that academics is what you live for. You can do this by pursuing extracurricular activities that meet the requirements of what you love to study. Also, by doing this, you are showing your passion for the field of study you are applying for.

This is an activity that is somehow related to what you're hoping to study in college.

For example, if you want to get a degree in journalism, you could be working for your school newspaper. A future medical student may have volunteered at the local hospital. By demonstrating passion and devotion, applicants can easily tick off these requirements during the application process.

The Community Service Activity

The list of admissions requirements in many colleges and universities include community service or social work, especially, if you are an applicant to a related course, such as development studies, or planning to pursue a postgraduate course in social work.

This activity is an extracurricular that allows you to volunteer your time to work with people or for a cause in your community.

Many students find community service beneficial in that they develop critical thinking, compassion. problem-solving skills, and become more responsible citizens, overall. Remember to choose something that is related to a cause you actually care about. and maybe, related to your area of study.

For example, volunteer at an old age home or an animal shelter, organize a garbage cleanup in your community, or a tree-planting drive in the neighborhood. Community service and volunteering experiences reflect your personality as a concerned citizen and an aspiring leader, all desirable qualities in a perfect university application.

Volunteer for social work and community service to demonstrate your leadership skills. Source: Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

The Personality Activity

Personality activities give you a chance to showcase a secret passion, something that is important to you, at a personal level. Irrespective of the course you apply for - English or Math - or the level of education - undergraduate or postgraduate = these activities are supposed to reflect what drives you, personally.

This is an activity that showcases something special about you and your personal interests. 

All you have to do is love a specific activity and include it in the list of extracurriculars. They may not necessarily be related to what you plan to study at university. For example, a student aspiring to join an engineering course may be a serious theater buff and may enjoy performing onstage.

Remember, colleges want to see a believable person and this makes personality activities a relevant inclusion in your college applications. To create a diverse and vibrant educational space, colleges and universities are always looking for interesting applicants with varied personal interests, apart from their knowledge and understanding of a subject.

A university student is also expected to be mature enough to conduct oneself with a sense of purpose, responsibility towards other students, and respect towards faculty. Such students are self-aware, know what drives them and are willing to invest the time and effort to achieve their goals, and create an impact through their learning.

In the end, you can include a long list of extracurricular activities to make your college application appear long. But, what will make a difference is your attitude and determination to follow it up with real passion and dedication.

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Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.