Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples – Introduction
As you work through your college applications, you may come across a version of the extracurricular activities essay. Many college application requirements include an extracurricular supplemental essay. So, don’t be surprised if you need to write an extracurricular supplemental essay for schools on your list. As you brainstorm and draft, it can be helpful to read some extracurricular activities essay examples.
In this guide, we’ve included several extracurricular activities essay examples to show you the ropes. By the end, you’ll see how to successfully complete the extracurricular activities essay. Take a look at these examples before you start your college applications.
The extracurricular activities essay is exactly what it sounds like. You will use the extracurricular supplemental essay to write about the importance of one of your extracurricular activities. Later, we’ll look at several elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples.
In our extracurricular activities essay examples, we’ll look at prompts from the following schools:
- Stanford University
- Rice University
- Bryn Mawr College
- Northwestern University
- Vanderbilt University
- University of Florida
- Princeton University
We’ll talk about what you can learn from each of our extracurricular activities essay examples. We will also explain how they contribute to each student’s application narrative. Before we jump into our extracurricular activities essay examples, let’s explore what counts as an extracurricular activity.
What is an extracurricular activity?
An extracurricular activity, or after-school activity, is something that you participate in outside of your regular classes. Extracurricular activities are important because they give you a chance to explore your interests outside the classroom. In fact, recent research suggests that being involved in extracurricular activities can even help a student’s engagement in school.
When you submit college applications, you’ll include a list of the extracurricular activities you have participated in during high school. Being involved in multiple extracurricular activities can bolster your candidate profile and make you stand out in the admissions process.
Extracurricular activities matter
If you plan to send college applications to top-tier schools, you’ll want to boost your participation in extracurricular activities early in your high school career. Colleges want to see that you have passions in and out of the classroom.
In other words, extracurricular activities can show admissions officers what you care about. Extracurricular activities can also help you learn more about what you enjoy, which can translate into potential extracurricular activities for college.
What are some examples of extracurricular activities?
Extracurricular activities can be clubs, organizations, sports, jobs, or anything in between. As you’ll see in our elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples, extracurriculars will vary from student to student. There are four main categories of extracurricular activities:
- School-sponsored activities
- Community activities
- Independent activities
- Work experiences
Each category has its own strengths and benefits you’ll want to show in your essay. Our extracurricular activities essay examples highlight activities from each category. As such, you’ll be able to see an activity similar to yours represented.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories before we dig into our extracurricular activity essay examples.
Extracurricular Activity Categories
School-sponsored extracurricular activities include clubs, organizations or programs that are hosted by your school. These might be sports teams, special interest clubs like technical theatre, or arts programs like band and orchestra.
Another popular type of extracurricular activity is community activities. Community activities include volunteer work and community service.
Getting involved in your local community is a great way to show the admissions committee how you give back.
These kinds of activities can also be a great topic for your extracurricular activities essay. They can include hobbies, learning new skills, or taking online courses in your favorite subject.
Independent activities help showcase your passions and interests. These types of extracurricular activities would be perfect to explore in an extracurricular supplemental essay, especially since they fit less neatly into the activities list on the Common App.
Many high school students have work experiences they can highlight in their college applications. Work experiences could include part-time jobs, internships, or shadowing opportunities.
Talking about your work experiences in your extracurricular supplemental essay can be a great way to show off your time management and professional skills to admissions officers.
Depth over breadth
However, you don’t have to participate in dozens of extracurricular activities to stand out in the college application process. It’s more important to develop depth than breadth in your extracurriculars to showcase your commitment and dedication.
In other words, it’s much more impressive for you to have a handful of extracurricular activities on your resume that you are deeply committed to than a long list of clubs and organizations that you don’t care about.
The best extracurricular activities for you will be the ones that match your interests and goals. Don’t just join every club at your school to fill out your resume. Instead, seek out extracurricular activities where you can explore your interests, learn new things, and grow over time.
Writing about Extracurricular Activities for College
Now that we’ve explored some extracurricular activity options that will be perfect for your extracurricular activities essay, let’s discuss how to write about your extracurricular activities on your college applications.
Most schools use a holistic process to review college applications. This means that they will evaluate you based on your entire candidate profile. This includes test scores, GPA, essays, and extracurricular activities.
Because more students are applying to colleges than ever before, you’ll want to do everything you can to stand out in your college applications. Writing about your extracurricular activities for college can help show the admissions committee who you are, what’s important to you, and what makes you a unique applicant.
Focus on the narrative
Use the extracurricular activities essay to tell a story about your experience. You can describe what it felt like, what it looked like, or how it helped you learn more about your own interests and goals.
When you are writing about your extracurricular activities for college, you’ll want to provide specific details about the type, length, and responsibilities of your involvements. If you’re unsure where to start, try making a list of all the extracurricular activities you have participated in since freshman year. Write down the role you had in this activity, how much time you spent doing it, and what you learned because of this involvement.
For more tips on how to write about extracurricular activities for college, check out this article. In it, you’ll find 39 essay tips from admissions experts on how to write a great college essay, including how to write about extracurricular activities for college.
What are some examples of extracurricular activities essay prompts?
Before we review our extracurricular activities essay examples (along with the reasons why these are college essays that worked), let’s look at the extracurricular activities essay prompts from Stanford, Rice, Bryn Mawr, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, UF, and Princeton.
Although the general idea is the same, each college will have a slightly different version of the extracurricular activities essay prompt. You’ll see the differences in our extracurricular activities essay examples below.
If you plan to apply to Stanford University, you should know that one of the Stanford supplemental essay prompts is as follows:
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
This extracurricular activities essay prompt is intentionally broad. You’ll need to select just one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences to describe in this Stanford supplemental essay.
This Stanford supplemental essay prompt is your opportunity to showcase one of your many involvements. It also gives you a chance to elaborate on why it is important to you. If possible, select an extracurricular activity or work experience that you have not already discussed at length anywhere else in your Stanford application.
This essay prompt on extracurriculars from Rice University is fairly straight forward. You can see the exact wording below:
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
The extracurricular activities essay prompt or Rice is the same as the one for the Stanford application. Like we mentioned above, you’ll want to highlight an activity that is not mentioned elsewhere in your application.
There are three Bryn Mawr supplemental essays that are required for admission. The first of the Bryn Mawr supplemental essays is about your extracurricular activities:
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below.
This prompt is the same as the ones for the Stanford application and Rice application. Our suggestions for those essays also apply for the first prompt of the Bryn Mawr supplemental essays.
Here is the Northwestern essay prompt:
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
If you are applying to Vanderbilt, you should know that the Vanderbilt application requires that you answer this extracurricular activities essay prompt:
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.
Both the Northwestern essay prompt and the Vanderbilt application prompt are the same as the ones for Stanford, Rice, and Bryn Mawr.
University of Florida
The UF application includes the following extracurricular activities essay prompt as part of the required University of Florida essays:
During high school, what is the most enriching long-term or ongoing activity in which you have participated outside of the classroom? Tell us about it – Why is it enriching to you? What have you gained or learned by participating in it? How do you plan to continue this type of activity in the future?
Unlike the prompts for the Stanford, Rice, Bryn Mawr, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern applications, this extracurricular activities essay prompt asks you to answer direct questions about your experience.
You’ll want to choose an activity that is the most significant, long-term activity that you have participated in during high school. Then, you’ll want to explain why it was enriching, what you learned in this activity, and how you plan to continue with this type of activity in college and beyond.
You’ll see how to answer these questions in our extracurricular activities essay examples.
The Princeton extracurricular activities essay prompt is as follows:
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you.
This prompt is similar to the ones above, but it does make an important distinction. You’ll want to choose an activity that was meaningful to you, which means you will need to spend part of your essay describing why you found this experience particularly impactful. We’ll take a look at how to do this in our extracurricular activities essay examples.
Which schools require an extracurricular activities essay?
In addition to the extracurricular activities essay prompts we highlighted above, many colleges include an extracurricular activities essay as part of their college application requirements.
Each of these schools’ college applications require you to write an extracurricular activities essay:
- Georgetown University
- University of California schools
- Howard University
- Amherst College
- Purdue University
Even though we won’t look at extracurricular activities essay examples for these colleges, the extracurricular activities essay examples we do highlight can help give you inspiration as you work on your college applications.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples
Now, it’s time to examine some extracurricular activities essay examples. Our elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples include Stanford essays examples, Rice supplemental essays examples, Bryn Mawr supplemental essays, Northwestern essay examples, Vanderbilt essay examples, UF supplemental essay examples, and Princeton essay examples.
Following each of the extracurricular activities essay examples, we’ll provide an analysis on why these are college essays that worked.
First, let’s kick off our extracurricular activities essay examples with the Stanford essays examples.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples: Stanford University
Here’s the first of our elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples:
Stanford Essay Examples
In February of 2016 my neighbor texted me and asked me to tutor her third grader in math. My first thought was “Third grade math?! This will be easy.” I was wrong. The girl I tutored is dyslexic and had ADHD, so working with her challenged me in a new way. I had to devise ways of teaching where she could understand it but also remain focused for long enough to accomplish it. I had to practice my patience in a way I never have before, and I have become a better person because of it. By the end of our work together, she was excited to play the math games I made up and she was so proud every time she understood a question or a concept. I am so thankful for that opportunity.
Why this essay worked
This sample of the Stanford essays examples works for several reasons. First, the author describes how the activity challenged them to come up with new ideas as a math tutor. This shows the admissions officer how thoughtful and creative this person can be in different situations.
In this essay (one of our Stanford essays examples), the author shows how they developed key skills, like patience, through this extracurricular activity. Highlighting new skills that you have learned through your extracurricular activities is a way to stand out from the crowd.
Showcasing personal growth, like the author did above, also shows the admissions team you are willing to change and better yourself when faced with challenges.
How To Write The Rice Supplemental Essays
Now, let’s turn to Rice supplemental essays examples. Below, you’ll see another version of the elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples.
Rice Supplemental Essay Examples
With an interest in business, it is hard to pass up the chance to become a part of the business club at my school. This competition-based club allows members to learn detailed ways to start and manage a business. Although my curiosity urged me to participate, the thought of writing 30 pages with a fast-approaching deadline seemed daunting. Prior to this program, I had very little knowledge on the basic principles of business management, however, through research and a bit of persistence, I learned countless fundamentals of business. Although I was awarded a medal and recognized as a State Finalist in the International Business Plan category, the most valuable thing I earned was the drive of an entrepreneur which taught me that even the most difficult of tasks can be accomplished if they are done with continued determination.
Getting straight to the point
This is one of our Rice supplemental essays examples. In it, the author mentions their academic interest right away. This helps the reader understand the forthcoming connection between the extracurricular activity and this person’s interests.
If you’re working with a tight word limit, like the one in the Rice supplemental essays examples, you’ll want to be concise with your details. The Rice supplemental essays examples only give you so many words to work with, so you have to make the most of them. In this essay, the author summarizes the purpose of their extracurricular activity quickly. This provides the reader with more context about their involvement without taking up too much space.
This is an example of college essays that worked because the author shows what they learned as a result of their involvement in this activity. This highlights the author’s potential success in a college setting.
How To Write The Bryn Mawr Supplemental Essays
Like the two extracurricular activities essay examples above, the Bryn Mawr supplemental essay is another version of the elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples.
Bryn Mawr Essay Example
After watching my grandfather suffer from heart ailments, it was particularly meaningful to have the opportunity to conduct echocardiography research with a pediatric cardiologist. During my summer internship at a Health and Science University, I designed and built heart models to mimic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) disease and investigate strain comparisons in a 2D and 3D model.
Continuously designing and analyzing my own experiments has not only taught me the value of diligence, patience and replication in the laboratory setting, but it has also instilled in me the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that will enable me to tackle difficult, and sometimes unknown, problems with sound reasoning and confidence as I serve the underrepresented to eliminate health disparities.
Why this essay worked
This response is one of the college essays that worked for several reasons. The author of this essay explains the personal significance of this extracurricular activity. This gives the reader more information about who this person is and why this activity is meaningful to them.
Additionally, the author uses their response to explain what they did during their internship as well as the values and skills they learned from this activity. They even go the extra mile to describe how they will use these values and skills to reach their goals in the future.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples: Northwestern University
The following essay is another of our elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples.
Northwestern Essay Example
After having been a Girl Scout for over 10 years, I can confirm that the most common questions I get asked are, “When are you selling the cookies,” or “Can I get [insert favorite cookie here]”. However, Girl Scouts means so much more to me than simply selling cookies for a few months.
Being a part of Girl Scouts has entailed, as the Girl Scout Law indicates, “being a sister to every Girl Scout”. When I first joined the organization as a Brownie, I didn’t think I would interact with the older girls at all. However, I soon began to admire my older Girl Scout sisters and looked up to them the more time I spent with them. As an Ambassador now, I try to show the same level of leadership by mentoring and working with younger girls, building a strong relationship with them and helping them on their journey to the higher ranks (as well as through life).
As a Girl Scout, I have also learned to enthusiastically help my community. Whether it be through providing assistance at food pantries, cleaning up litter, donating to the homeless, or singing carols in retirement homes, Girls Scouts has taught me the importance of helping others in need around me and improving the state of the world.
So, yes, being a Girl Scout does mean selling cookies. But, more importantly, Girl Scouts has meant growing into a confident young woman, being a mentor, and providing service to better the world.
Focus on depth of involvement
This sample comes from one of our Northwestern essay examples. In it, the author mentions the length of their involvement in the Girl Scouts and their progression from a junior member to a senior member.
Like we mentioned earlier, it’s important to have extracurricular activities on your list that show depth, especially in your Northwestern application. In other words, the longer you participate in an activity, the more significant it is to your college applications.
This is another example of college essays that worked because the author can describe how they eventually moved into a leadership role and what that new role entails. If you are a leader in your organization, be sure to mention it on your Northwestern application and in your essay.
Finally, the author concludes with a description of who they are and what this activity has taught them. We saw similar versions of this conclusion in the extracurricular activities essay examples above, which goes to show that these are college essays that worked.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples: Vanderbilt University
Next, let’s look at Vanderbilt essay examples. This essay is one of the longer samples of our extracurricular activities essay examples. Please note that the name of the program described has been removed for anonymity.
Vanderbilt Essay Examples
I silently sat in the passenger seat of my mother’s car with a churning feeling in my stomach. My legs bounced wildly, and my body was tense. My anxiety came from the fact I would be starting my first day at a pre-college program to which I was recently accepted.
When my mother dropped me off at the building where my first class would be held, I nervously walked in, surprised to be greeted by the smiling faces of my peers. Looking around, I saw faces of all shades. This amazed me, having been surrounded by people who looked like me for most of my life. As I engaged in conversation with students already present, I increasingly became more comfortable.
Though class began with typical icebreakers, we quickly transitioned into math topics, beginning with algebra and progressing into trigonometry and summations. When the professor concluded the lecture, I was shocked to find that the class had passed by so quickly. Similar sentiments arose after completing my critical thinking class in the afternoon. When my mother picked me up after that class, I enthusiastically spilled my experiences from the day.
The following six weeks of that summer (and ensuing summers) comprised of me being introduced to new perspectives. Being surrounded by peers that were different in lifestyle and socioeconomic status made me more open-minded to unfamiliar concepts and interpretations.
The brother and sisterhood I formed with my peers made me way less dependent on my twin sister and increased my confidence in my beliefs and individuality.
Additionally, being taught by university professors in rigorous subject matter instilled in me a newfound passion in exploring challenging topics. This program has assisted in developing me into a more well-rounded, cultured individual not only through exposure to a research program at the university hospital, but through enrichment activities during the school year (watching plays, attending politic and STEM-based talks, and experiencing cultural shows). Though I was initially apprehensive in applying to this program, I now look back at the program as life-altering and am thankful for the experience. Three years ago, I was just a “twin” who did well in school, however today I am an individual with my own unique views, eager to learn the endless knowledge the world has to offer me.
Unlike the extracurricular activities essay examples above, this essay puts you right in the middle of the story. This can be an effective way to grab your reader’s attention as they review your Vanderbilt application.
Additionally, this is a great example of college essays that worked because the author describes self-growth because of their involvement. In this sample from our Vanderbilt essay examples, the writer explains the new skills they learned and details the type of experiences they had while in this extracurricular activity.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples: University of Florida
Now, let’s look at UF supplemental essay examples. This essay is a little different from our previous extracurricular activities essay examples.
This is a slightly elevated take on the elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples prompt. It asks you to do more than just explain your involvement in an extracurricular activity.
UF Supplemental Essay Examples
“Thaka-dhimi thaka- janu! Strike your foot higher! Sit more! Discipline yourself!”
To most, these phrases and commands would have sounded like gibberish. But to me, it meant beauty and grace. It meant dedication and determination. It invoked a sense of community and contentment. It meant Bharatantyam.
From the ripe age of 5 years old, I’ve had the opportunity to learn an Indian Classical Dance form, Bharatanatyam, from my mother. I took this opportunity seriously in tenth grade. Once I chose to commit fully to Bharatantyam, it was life changing.
Bharatantyam has transformed me for the good as a person. Countless hours spent in practice disciplined me. Preparing mentally for a more sophisticated piece or dance item allowed me to expand my brain’s depth. From a physical standpoint, one can see that Bharatantyam is a beautiful dance that harmonizes your brain and body.
Viewing Bharatanatyam from a scientific standpoint is what made it so much more enriching. Watching a video from my mother’s guru, I began to understand the neurological benefits of both dancing and watching Bharatantyam. Viewing that clip gave me a revolutionary idea: treating neurological diseases for senior citizens through Bharatanatyam.
I began to perform at senior assisted living facilities around my city. Many of the seniors I performed for weren’t able to even stay awake for it. While at times discouraging, small moments of joy kept me going. Every smile I received from my audience and every conversation I had with the seniors were the reasons why I kept dancing.
Now, I plan to expand this activity more at UF. Creating a non-profit in which dancers have paid performances and donate that money to neurological research institutes is how I believe I should start. With UF’s resources, I easily see this idea becoming reality.
Extracurricular activities essay prompt
With this extracurricular activities essay examples prompt, you must answer all three parts of the University of Florida essays question to complete your UF application.
Like the extracurricular activities essay examples for Vanderbilt, this sample from our UF supplemental essay examples puts you right in the middle of the story. It starts off with a quote, grabbing the reader’s attention. This sample of the University of Florida essays also shows you the length of involvement this author had in the activity while highlighting aspects of their unique culture.
This is one of our college essays that worked because this response details the author’s experience, growth, and future goals. On top of that, this sample from our UF supplemental essay examples further strengthens the writer’s UF application by connecting their experience to how they hope to continue this activity at UF.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples: Princeton University
This sample from the Princeton essay examples is the last of our college essays that worked.
Princeton Essay Examples
Serving as a Student Government leader at my college has taught me the power of student voice and collaborative leadership. During my Junior year, I began attending Senate Meetings and was elected as a Senator a few months later. I began proposing solutions to problems my college faces, from lack of STEM programming to low voter turnout rates to poor multicultural outreach programs. I created student committees to tackle these problems, the most recent being a committee working to bring a series of local STEM professionals for our artist-in-residence series. I was appointed as a student voice to faculty committees, such as the Diversity and Equity Committee. I use this position to bring student concerns I hear from SG directly to the college board to catalyze changes in our college, such as the introduction of STEM cohort groups or providing resources for students of color.
Why this essay worked
The last of our extracurricular activities essay examples mentions the activity right away. It also mentions what the activity taught the author. Like the extracurricular activities essay examples above, this response adds specific details. Moreover, the author describes the impact of their leadership role.
In addition to describing the experience itself, this essay highlights how the author implemented solutions to the problems they recognized within their community, another key skill that will be important in college.
How To Write A Great Extracurricular Activities Essay
In our extracurricular activities essay examples, you saw different ways to write a great extracurricular activities essay. Now let’s talk about how you can use these extracurricular activities essay examples to help you write your own.
When you write your own extracurricular activities essay, be sure to refer to the extracurricular activities essay examples above. Each of the extracurricular activities essay examples highlights a different aspect of each applicant’s candidate profile—from backgrounds to passions to academic interests and goals.
Read every prompt carefully
Remember, some colleges might have different ways of approaching the extracurricular activities essay, which will be evident in the essay prompt. Like some of the extracurricular activities essay examples above, you might be working with a shorter or longer word limit. You also may have specific questions you need to address when elaborating on your extracurriculars.
There’s no specific formula on how to write a great extracurricular activities essay. However, here are a few tips to help you write a strong response that will stand out from the crowd.
Additional Tips for Writing Extracurricular Activities Essays
Choosing which activities to write about and how to present them is key to writing a successful extracurricular activities essay. Reading some elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples can help you learn how to structure your own essays. You’ll likely need to write about your extracurriculars to complete your college application requirements. So, use this as a chance to show the admissions committee what matters to you.
In this guide, we’ve reviewed extracurricular activities essay examples from some of the top colleges in the nation. We hope this helps you as you write your own extracurricular activities essay.
Three tips to help you write your extracurricular activities essays:
1. Demonstrate your passion.
Like we saw in the extracurricular activities essay examples, this is your opportunity to show what’s important to you. Use your essays to demonstrate your passion.
2. Show your dedication.
Many of our extracurricular activities essay examples discussed how long the author was involved in the activity. Show your dedication to your hobby, club, or organization through your essay responses.
3. Match your extracurricular activities essay examples to a school’s mission or values.
There are plenty of applicants who can fill out all the college application requirements. However, to truly stand out, you’ll want to show the admissions office why you are a great fit for their university. Match your extracurricular activities essay examples to a college’s mission or values to prove that you are committed to attending that university.
Other CollegeAdvisor Resources on Extracurricular Activities
If you need help figuring out how to get involved, watch our webinar for tips on how to join new extracurricular activities in high school. For more ideas on which extracurricular activities might be right for you, check out our article on 38 high school extracurricular ideas for college applicants.
Wondering how to showcase your extracurricular activities in your college applications? Check out our guide for more information on how to approach extracurricular activities in the college admissions process.
Finally, check out our panel for additional tips on how to craft your activity and extracurriculars list for college.
Extracurricular Activities Essay Examples – Final Thoughts
We hope that our guide on extracurricular activities essay examples (and college essays that worked) help you prepare your own extracurricular activities essay. If an extracurricular activities essay is part of your college application requirements, be sure to refer back to our extracurricular activities essay examples for guidance.
As you likely noticed from our extracurricular activities essay examples, college essays that worked tend to highlight students’ passion. This is even more true when it comes to extracurriculars. Don’t feel daunted by the extracurricular supplemental essay requirement. Instead, use it as a chance to highlight how you engage deeply with the world around you.
Not all prompts are the same
Remember, the prompt to your extracurricular activities essay might look different than the ones we highlighted in our extracurricular activities essay examples above. Even if your prompt is different from our ‘elaborate on an extracurricular activity essay examples’, you can still use them to brainstorm ideas for your own extracurricular activities essay.
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This article was written by Claire Babbs. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile. We will help you increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.