Being involved outside of the classroom in activities that interest you and participating in some form of community service is important for your application but equally important for yourself. Joining a club, playing a sport or pursuing a hobby that you enjoy can help you find things you’re passionate about and allow you to meet likeminded people (always a good thing when you’re a new kid). Devoting a few hours a week to a cause you deem worthy, whether it be a local food bank or the library system, also helps to develop compassion and perspective.
While school focuses on challenging and elevating your mind, extracurricular activities help you grow as a person, a fact that colleges recognize. Likely for this reason, extracurricular activities and volunteer work are highly considered in the admissions process, falling just behind your GPA and test scores in terms of importance for most colleges. These activities paint a picture of you as a person for universities so it’s important that you are genuinely interested and committed to those that you choose to pursue. Don’t wait until your junior or senior year to get involved; colleges will recognize your efforts as a last minute attempt at padding your resume regardless of whether or not this is actually the case (or if you’re willing to admit it). It’s best to get involved with a variety of things as a freshman and then focus on the activities that interest you the most, ideally earning a leadership position as an upperclassman.
Can’t find anything you’re interested in? All the better! Starting your own group or club shows initiative and drive in addition to commitment and leadership skills, all very attractive traits to have as a college applicant.