Most students can’t wait for the school bell to ring indicating the end of the day’s learning, but an equal amount of education can happen in the hours after school too.  Extracurricular activities can take several forms, but all contribute to the development of a “well-rounded” student.

Clubs, organizations, and sports

Today’s youth have a variety of interests.  Many middle and high schools have clubs, organizations, or sport opportunities to meet those interests.  Enjoy the engineering design process?  Maybe there’s a MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) club at your school.  Like the arts and graphic design?  Help to shape the memories of the year by being involved in Yearbook.  Would you rather be competing?  Schools usually are pretty well supported in their athletic offerings.  Whatever your student’s interest, help them find a way to further explore the opportunity.  You never know, the child that starts out banging on a keyboard may someday play a grand piano on Broadway. 

Community Service

Just like clubs and sports, service is a great way to develop your skills and understanding of your community, while also helping someone in need.  Community service tends to vary in length and depth of service.  Are you volunteering to serve at a food bank once a year, or are you organizing volunteers from your local church to make sure the soup kitchen is staffed for the entire year.  Whether it is giving to an individual by helping an aging neighbor with yard work, or helping the Boys and Girls Club to organize its annual Steak and Burger Dinner, others immediately reap the benefits of your generosity.

 In addition to your effect on your community, you will also develop important relationships that can prove helpful in the college or scholarship search process.  Adults who work with you at different service organizations can often be wonderful sources of support for letters of recommendation, or even knowledge about different colleges and universities.  It’s a win-win for all involved!

Leadership

Whether you are involved in clubs, sports, or community service, often times there are a variety of levels of involvement and leadership available to youth.  What strengths do you have as an individual that can match up nicely with the needs of the organization or volunteer opportunity?  The only thing more important than showing consistent involvement in extracurricular and community service, is to show that you have advanced from being a member to contributing in some great way through leadership.

Leadership, however, does not just mean having a position or title.  If you want to really gain experience, and have something meaningful to discuss in your applications, you need to be able to explain what you contributed to the group.  Did you start a new event?  Did you fundraise for a cause?  Did you lead the team to a district championship?  These are all great starts to explaining your contributions in leadership, and can then be followed up with the story of your experiences leading up to that final success or achievement.  What challenges did you overcome?  What lessons did you learn?  The more information you can provide, the more learning you demonstrate, and the better a candidate you become for the scholarship or college you have in mind.

Work Experience

Students may get to the age where they either have the opportunity to join the workforce, or are required to get a job to assist with the finances at home.  Either way, don’t just see your employer as a place to pick up your paycheck every two weeks.  Within each job lies a wealth of opportunities and life lessons that can demonstrate your ability to learn outside the classroom and apply your intellect to real world situations.  This is a great indicator of responsibility to application reviewers, and an opportunity to develop relationships with people who could write your letters of recommendation (your boss) and groom you for new leadership experiences.