Building Your Extracurricular Profile as a High School Sophomore and Junior
Are you a high school sophomore or junior looking to enhance your extracurricular profile? Do you want to learn how to choose activities that align with your interests and impress college admissions officers? Join our webinar “Building Your Extracurricular Profile as a High School Sophomore and Junior” and gain expert advice from seasoned admissions experts.
During this webinar, you will learn:
- Why extracurricular activities are important for college admissions
- How to identify your interests and passions
- Strategies for researching and selecting extracurricular activities
- Tips for balancing academics and extracurricular commitments
- Techniques for demonstrating leadership and impact
- Common mistakes to avoid when building your profile
Whether you are just starting to build your extracurricular profile or looking to enhance your existing activities, this webinar will provide you with the tools and guidance you need to create a standout profile that showcases your unique qualities and interests.
Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and make your college application shine! Register now for “Building Your Extracurricular Profile as a High School Sophomore and Junior.”
2023-04-12 – Building Your Extracurricular Profile as a High School Sophomore and Junior
Hi everyone. My name is Stacey Tuttle, and I am your moderator today. Welcome to Building Your Extracurricular Profile as a High School Sophomore and Junior. To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start off with the presentation and then answer your questions in a live Q&A in the sidebar.
You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab. Now let’s meet our panelist.
Hi everyone. My name is Joseph Recupero. I am currently a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of California Davis. But my academic background has kind of always revolved around anthropology. I did my bachelor’s at Gettysburg College and my master’s at Columbia University. I’ve been with CollegeAdvisor about three years now in a variety of roles, including an admission specialist, an advisor, and a team lead.
And I also have an extensive background of about four years working in different admissions offices and as an admissions officer. So I’m very excited to get to speak with you all tonight about your extracurricular.
Great, thank you. Okay, so we’re going to start with a quick poll. You’re gonna see the poll start and so you can start answering. We wanna get a sense of what grade you’re in. We wanna see who’s in the audience today. So let’s see what those answers look like as they come in now. And in the meantime, Joseph, given the topic tonight, do you remember any of your extracurriculars when you were in high school? I do. And I was actually the the Renaissance person, the little bit of everything person, which we’ll talk about why that might not necessarily be the best approach to extracurriculars. But I remember my Junior year I would run from, Swim practice to track conditioning, to musical practice and then go home and get ready for the quiz bowl event the next day, or the math league event the next day.
So it was, it was a lot going on. I didn’t actually venture that often into leadership positions, which is definitely something I wish I would’ve done more of. But I was kind of all over the place when it came to my extracurriculars. Yeah, that’s awesome. I, kind of identify with, I was a theater kid but also played tennis, so there was a lot going on.
And so looking at the poll, it looks like most of our students appropriately here are in the 10th grade and 11th grade we have some in the ninth grade. So, good for you all. Thinking ahead. So I’m gonna go ahead and close the poll and let’s move on to the main part of the presentation. I’m gonna turn it over to you.
Awesome. So first and foremost, I want to start by talking to you all about some timelines as far as sophomores and juniors are concerned and, and sophomores. I really think this is the time, and this is the year where you’ve made it through your freshman transition. You’ve started to get the hang of what high school looks like, and now this is really kind of your, your ground floor, your goal setting.
This is your time to really start to. Build up what is going to become your college profile. So I always say it’s a great time to really, now that you’ve explored high school, find those clubs and activities that are really suited to your interests and your goals and what you want to do in the future, and really start developing them during your freshman year.
As I said, you’ve started to get used to your classes. You’ve started to get used to what your school has to offer. Now’s the time to really deepen your involvement and decide. What it is that you really want to be doing moving forward. Set yourself goals for junior and senior year based on your activities.
It’s also really the time to begin thinking about coursework. A lot of people think that you don’t take advanced coursework until your junior year, and I know sometimes it depends on your high school, but I definitely recommend starting advanced coursework. This is the time to develop that GPA and really build up that GPA because junior year is often considered the hardest year academically, but sophomore year and freshman year as well are really when you build up your strong base for your GPA.
And in addition to taking those advanced classes, it’s really the time to develop relationships with your teachers. I know it seems a little early to think about letters of recommendation, but it’s not. You need to start establishing those relationships. The better relationships you have with teachers, the better letters of recommendation.
They’re gonna be able to write you. I also think if you’re not me and you didn’t hide atlas’s under your bed and know that you were gonna be an anthropologist one day, this is the time to really start kind of narrowing in on what you want to do with the rest of your life. I know it’s very hard to ask 15, 16, 17 year olds to know what they want to do, and I don’t expect you to have the perfect.
So this is a time to really start exploring your fields of interest. You know, take advantage of maybe career orientations that your high school has, or field trips, or, you know, start looking at different majors on college websites and think about what that might look like for you. Talk to family members who are in career fields that might interest you.
And it’s also a really important time to start taking practice exams for standardized tests. I know a lot of high schools push these off into junior year, but if you have the opportunity to start preparing for those standardized tests, do it because you actually wanna be taking the main ones, the SAT and the ACT during your junior year.
And then into your senior year if necessary. But this is a really good time to start preparing, and I always say you should utilize the summer after your sophomore year. Go for the internships, the summer opportunities, the chances to explore your career field. As I said, these are all kind of the foundational building block type of activities for your sophomore year so that you can really start building up your profile.
Now juniors, this is one of the most important years in your process. This is kind of where you are going to build up the GPA that colleges are going to see. So yes, senior year grades are important. They are going to look at your mid-year grade reports, but this is really your chance to build that strong GPA that colleges are gonna look.
And keep in mind that schools do want to see consistency or improvement. The rollercoaster isn’t gonna do it much good when it comes to colleges, but consistency or improvement is what we’re really looking for. And make sure that you are challenging yourself appropriately. You don’t need to take every AP class under the sun, but you do need to take those that will influence.
Your career field and those that you feel comfortable in, challenge yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself. But remember that junior year is a very important academic year. And also keep in mind that your letters of recommendation usually come from teachers that you have in your junior year. It’s even better if it’s a teacher you’ve had sophomore and junior year because then they really get to know you.
But you do need to be maintaining and continuing to, to develop those relationships with your high school teacher. Most people think the admissions process starts in the fall of your senior. Disillusion yourself with that. Your application process absolutely starts in your junior year and is really a crucial time in the process.
This is when you are taking your standardized tests, your ACTs, your SATs, your PSATs. The reason I recommend doing it in junior year, at least twice in junior year, is because you do not want to be in the crunch of fall of senior year. Taking your first exam, not quite getting the score you want, and then trying to figure out what to do next.
So give yourself the time to take the exam multiple times if you need, take it from me. I took my SAT four times until I got the score I wanted, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So just give yourself the time to prepare. You should also absolutely be building your college list in the spring of your junior year.
I usually say around, 25 to 30 schools, you’ll eventually narrow that down to around eight to 15. But you want to start developing your initial school list because you want to be building, building, visiting schools over the summer. So it’s definitely something you also want to be thinking about. You should Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.
Absolutely. Be brainstorming and drafting your personal statement in your junior. Towards the end of your junior year because the summer is a really important time to be writing that personal statement. Once you get into the senior fall of senior year, you are going to be working on a lot of supplemental essays, depending on the schools that you’re applying for.
So this is a really good time to start brainstorming and building your personal statement and then writing throughout the summer. And as we said before, pick courses that demonstrate academic rigor and make sure you pick activities that show your. And your commitment. Jumping from activity to activity at this point does not look the best on an application.
There is this myth of the well-rounded student, well-rounded activity person, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. Make sure you’re choosing your activities because they’re your interests and they are applicable to what you want to do in your future.
So how should my approach to extracurricular activities be different for sophomores and juniors? So these are kind of my basic guidelines to the differences that you can think about for sophomores. As I said, this is now your second year in high school. You are more established. You know the ins and outs of how this is going to work.
It’s time for you to focus, find your focus, find your goals, decide I wanna be. A leader in this club by my junior year or my senior year, how am I gonna get there? How am I gonna do it? This is also the year to get as much in-depth involvement as possible. Junior year is a heavy, heavy academic year as a sophomore year, but not to the full extent.
So this is a chance to really start going deep into those activities, take the additional competitions or internship opportunities. I don’t know. Take up a role in the school play whatever you really feel you can dedicate your time to. This is a great year to do it. As I already said, lay the groundwork for those leadership positions.
Don’t just say senior year, oh, I want to be captain, or I want to be president. Create the opportunities for yourself. Show your investment in these activities so that it’s an obvious choice when it gets to senior year, and start researching things that you can be doing in your. Now juniors, this is where you really have to start thinking about your extracurricular profile.
Not just each activity you do, but how do you bring them all together? How do they represent you as an applicant? Because that is going to be a big key feature for your application, is understanding not just a collection of activities, but what do they say about you as an applicant and as an individual.
Very important. Also leave your mark. You need to be able to show that you weren’t just a passive individual in your clubs and activities. You know, go after projects, hold leadership positions, enter competitions, go after awards, start new clubs. These are all ways to really leave your mark and to show that you are not being passive in the process.
You’re really going after what you. If you are doing research, if you have started doing research in your sophomore year, which I recommend you do, if your school offers the opportunity, continue doing research and look for publishing opportunities. A lot of high schoolers don’t know that you can absolutely publish research that you do, maybe with a community college or in a college summer program, or even with a professor or teacher at your school.
So look for those publishing opportunities. And then make sure you’re going after, especially in your junior year, multiple forms of experience, clubs, jobs, internships, shadowing, academic programs, sports. We’re gonna talk a couple slides from now about all the different things that actually count as extracurricular activities.
And this is the time to go after multiple skill sets and multiple different types of activities. Because when it comes to your activities, College is going to be looking for that profile, how it all fits together, but also not what you did, but what you gained from it. What skillsets and perspectives can you actually bring to the colleges that you’re applying for?
So let’s talk quantity versus quality. This is always the debate. How many extracurriculars should you really be involved in? When I was in high school, I told you I was a jack of all trades. That’s because that’s what we were told to do. We were told to be involved in everything. That is not the case anymore.
Colleges are much more interested in quality as opposed or in quality, as opposed to quantity. They want to see that you choose. A handful of activities and really dedicate yourselves to them. So you need to know how many activities you’re actually going to be able to talk about on your applications. So when it comes to the common application, you can list five honors and awards.
You can list 10 activities. With the coalition application, you get E eight extracurriculars, and out here in the uc system, they are a little more extensive. You get 20 extracurriculars, so you need to understand what you’re actually going to be able to put onto these applications for them to see, to represent yourself and know your experiences.
As I listed here, it’s not necessarily about filling every slot and you. Need to fill every slot. I have worked with students that sometimes only fill seven of the 10 extracurriculars on the common application, but those seven are so in depth, and then they ask me, oh, should I just list these other random things?
Sometimes randomness actually can be disadvantageous to you instead of focusing on those seven activities that you are really involved with and have done in. And make sure you are highlighting those skillsets, leadership, volunteering, standout opportunities, overall involvement. So leadership, think captains and co-captains, volunteering because colleges really want to see that you are going to be able to take volunteerism to those, their campuses.
Most colleges are very, very focused on volunteering. When I talk about standout opportunities, I talk about things that kind of go above and beyond. The high school or the classroom internships and job shadowing. And then, as I said, it’s about showing how your involvement overall creates a really strong profile for you.
So when it comes to applications, how important are extracurriculars? This is something that a lot of people have mixed opinions on. But I will tell you when I have read applications and when most admissions officers read applications, this is really where we start to see how you spend your time, but also how you may fit in to the college you’re applying to, because this shows who you’ll be outside of the classroom.
So here are some of the things that extracurriculars show in admissions office. First off, they show your values, you. Why are you dedicating your time to something, right? You usually dedicate your time to something because you believe in it. You have passion for it. It is something you are willing to commit yourself to, and so extracurriculars often show the values that you hold and the values that you could bring to a college campus, which is very important for colleges to start to get an idea.
They’re also going to show your initiative, you know, what really pushes you, what drives you as a student, intellectually, personally, socially, and really what are you willing to put in to pursue those initiatives. It also shows initiative when you start or found or resurface clubs and activities at your schools because it shows organization, it shows leadership, it shows willingness to really put in the work.
And these are all things that colleges are absolutely looking for. Your extracurricular list is also gonna show something that is very important to colleges, which is time management. When you’re in high school, you are often on a very rigid schedule, right? Eight, nine periods of classes, and then after school activities.
But that’s not the way college is structured. It is going to be much more fluid. You’re going to be much more responsible for your own schedule. And so college just want to see if you can handle multiple activities alongside your academics, and also if you’re able to do so successfully and really manage your own time, which is going to be very important.
And then of course they’re looking for complexity. We understand that all of you that are here tonight are different. You each have different lives, responsibilities, opportunities in front of you. So colleges want to know what your activities tell us about you and how you chose to spend your time and what you chose to commit yourself to allow your activities to really paint a picture of who you are along with your statements, because as I said, it shouldn’t just be a list of things you.
They should be important components of who you are and how you spend your time. So values, initiative, time management, and complexity. These are all things that your extracurriculars are going to show on a college application, which is very important.
So this is my favorite list because most people don’t quite think about this, but what counts as an extracurricular? So many things. As you can see, I’ve put a large list of them here, but there are some that people don’t often think count such as private instrument lessons. You’ve been playing an instrument for a long time, or you taught yourself to play an instrument and commit a large amount of time to doing so that counts.
Babysitting or small jobs that you take on that aren’t, you know, official, but that you do that. Responsibilities that you have to your family. Caring for younger siblings things such as that, that absolutely counts. Paid jobs, you know, I worked at McDonald’s throughout high school. That is an extracurricular activity and there are a lot of skill sets, including patients that you gain from working at McDonald’s as a high schooler.
So there are a lot of these different area. Academics, art, athletics, you know, ROTC programs, family responsibilities, religious communities, school spirit organizations, government Theater, LGBQIA organizations and cultural organizations. The sky is kind of the limit when it comes to activities, and I’ve often worked with students who tell me, well, my school doesn’t have all of these opportunities.
Right? That’s not necessarily a detriment. It’s an opportunity for you to find those activities in your community online, in all of these different spaces where it’s possible for you to really look for these other activities. Oh, I apologize. My cat just jumped into my lap. We love when the pets join. Yes.
Awesome. So Stacey, what do you think, you know, being an admissions officer before, what do you think colleges really get out of seeing a student’s extracurricular activities? Yeah. Thank you for asking this, Joseph. I definitely would reiterate everything that, and echo everything that you’ve already said here.
I think the most salient point that I’d really love this group to take from the the webinar today is to follow your passions. Because your extracurriculars inform your story, your narrative and everybody’s narrative or story is different in the application. So when I’m as an admissions officer going into an application and reading your application, I am going in with the footing.
I am rooting for you. I wanna know who you are and I want you to succeed in telling me your story. And if you choose extracurriculars that you actually love to do, that you’re passionate about, that story is gonna be a lot easier to write for you, if you will. Whether that be through the extracurriculars themselves or actual essays that you’re writing that are informed by your extracurriculars, your application will be that much stronger.
So, to Joseph’s point earlier, don’t you know, focus on the things that you think you should be. Focus on the things that you actually want to do, and that will inform what you ultimately hope to do in college, whether that be your extracurricular work or a major, a program that you hope to pursue. Does that help Joseph?
Absolutely, absolutely. I think it is so important that they, that you all understand that it, your passion is what needs to show, not what you you think a college wants to see. Because if everyone did what they thought a college wanted to see, every application would be so, Stale. We want to see you through your activities.
That’s so crucial. Absolutely. Okay. So now we are going to start another poll. We wanna just get a sense from the group as to where you are in your college application process. So there’s a few options here. Haven’t started. Totally happens. I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together generally, and I’m almost done.
So you all might be at different stages. Go ahead and submit the poll. We’re really looking forward to seeing. What your answers are here and you know, just, you know, thinking about some of the points that you made so far, Joseph. I, I think back to high school where I also, you know, worked, I’m first generation, I didn’t.
I had to work, I had to make money while I was in high school. And that absolutely was a very informative experience for me, and therefore it was really important to my college application process. It’s and I think that’s the biggest thing that students overlook, or the biggest misconception that I often see is that, Students think that jobs don’t qualify.
So I’m really glad that you included that. And I loved your note about looking for opportunities in the community when they, you don’t think they necessarily exist. I call those created opportunities. There’s always, you know, Room to recognize a gap in an activity or a need. And you can, you know, really be a leader in that area.
Create a group, create a club, create a volunteer activity. So we really love that. So let’s see. Based on the poll, it looks like most of you are actually researching your schools, which is fabulous. Sorry, then I lost the results. Here we go. Many of you haven’t started. Great. You’re in the right place.
We’re gonna guide you through this. And then a lot of you are also working on your essays, getting those application materials together. A few are almost done, so kudos to you. And with that, let’s turn it back over to Joseph with the rest of the presentation. Sure. So another one of the important questions we often get, and actually one of the Q&A questions this will actually give me a good opportunity to talk about this, is do your extracurriculars have to align with your intended major?
I wouldn’t necessarily say no. But they do need to be purposeful. So that’s why I always talk about an extracurricular profile. So Olivia I know you asked if FBLA and mock trial are good activities for history ma for a history major, it depends on what you do with them. If you build up the skillsets such as public speaking and research and attention to detail that a history program may be looking for, then absolutely.
So it’s really about creating that. And about being purposeful. So some of the questions that you really want to think about is, why am I doing this activity right? Why did I choose this? Did I choose this because my friends were in it? Did I choose this because mom and dad said I had to, or did I choose it because I’m passionate about it?
I think it will teach me something. I think there’s an opportunity for me to grow through this activity or a skillset I can gain. Another question is, what is a transferrable skill set that I’m gonna gain from this activity? So again, mock trial, public speaking, research skills competitive skills, being able to construct a strong argument.
These are all what I like to call soft skills, which actually for those of you looking at liberal arts and science colleges, but. A lot of programs in general will focus on these soft skills like public speaking, like argument crafting, like critical thinking, like group work that become really important in college and then also in career fields.
So really think about what are those skill sets that you can gain and how can you really transfer them. And then how do these activities relate to my future goals and ambitions? So again, you can do something just because you enjoy it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your career goal, but if you are extremely invested in music, even if you don’t want to become a music major, there’s still a reason you’re invested in it.
Right? What is it about your future? What place do you want music to have in your future? And how can you really translate that in your application? So it doesn’t necessarily have to all be about your career field or your intended major. More so about your goals and expectations for the future. And I’m sorry, you all can probably hear there are three cats in this apartment.
So they are meowing at the moment. They’re also very excited about all of your extracurricular activities.
So this is what we talked a little bit about earlier. What about jobs in family care? Do these count as activities? Yes, 100%. Absolutely. Yes. We, as I said earlier, understand that each student is in a very different, Place. For example, I came from a very low income family, so I couldn’t afford to do internships or summer programs that required me to pay for them, but I was able to, you know, babysit my little sister.
I was able to have a job. I was able to do the activities in my high school that didn’t require kind of payments. Colleges know that you all have different circumstances, and that is absolutely something they take into consideration. What they wanna see is what you are able to do within those circumstances and how you really use your time and jobs and family care are different kinds of responsibilities and leadership, right?
These are a unique kind of leadership that you have. Responsibilities that you have, and they come with their own skillsets. So it really is on the application about explaining those skill sets and explaining how to use them and how you’ve gained them. These things are not disadvantages. They’re opportunities to really show you and what you’ve learned and the skillsets that you have.
So don’t be afraid of these type of opportunities or feel like they’re a disadvantage. They’re actually very special and very important. Now how to identify extracurriculars for the summer and the fall. So juniors, I always say, going into this summer, this is your last chance. This is the summer to make the most of, because you don’t necessarily want to be adding a bunch of stuff in your senior year.
Now, if it is something you are absolutely passionate about and an opportunity that is put in front of you. I’m telling you to take it, but if you’re just adding things to try and pad your resume, I would advise against. I would really use your junior summer as the last chance to really shape your extracurricular profile and your involvement.
And sophomores. It’s a great time for new opportunities and to really dive deeper into the clubs and activities that you’re interested in. So these are some of the steps that I talk through with students when I am advising them about how to think about the summers after sophomore year and junior year.
First thing we want to think about is identifying your gaps. Are you lacking leadership? Do you need to start planning on how to be a leader? Have you not quite done all of the volunteer work you wanna do and really want to dedicate your summer to an overall volunteer program or a bunch of different volunteer opportunities?
How are you going to stand out? You know, summer is the time when some of you don’t necessarily have classes. So this is when you can step into those internships, those research opportunities, those job shadowing opportunities, all of these things that can really take your application a step above. And then, is your overall involvement lacking anything?
Is there a skillset that you wanted to gain that you haven’t necessarily done? So I know one of you asked a question earlier about languages you. Does committing yourself and learning a language count as an extracurricular? Absolutely. And if this is something that you wanted to commit yourself to and you want to be part of your overall profile, go for it.
The second thing you wanna do is identify what is possible and reasonable. Remember, this is still your summer. You are not robots. You should still be enjoying yourself. So make sure you have a balance of the extracurriculars you’re involved in, but also just time for yourself. Time to prepare for your senior year.
Time to start thinking about the college process because juniors, this is also when you’re going to be starting to write your statements, so you really wanna make sure you are creating a balance for. Seek out opportunities through multiple sources. CollegeAdvisor does have a summer opportunities database so I definitely recommend that you check that out.
There are opportunities listed in major cities across the United States, so I’m sure there is some in proximity to all of you. You can also check in locally. Guidance counselors are. Resources for local opportunities. And so are different community organizations. So if you are a member of a religious institution or a social group or a community organization, they can also, you know, be resources for really great opportunities for you to be able to go after.
And of course, word of mouth. Talk to family, talk to friends, talk to those different connective networks that you have whether they be online or in person, and, and really see what comes out of it because those are really good opportunities for job shadowing as well. If, if mom knows someone who’s an anthropologist, let’s say since I have to promote anthropology a little bit.
If mom knows me and she tells me you are interested in anthropology, I would say, great. Come spend two weeks with me and job shadow me and, and kind of learn how I do anthropological research. So really use those word of mouth connections as well. And fourth plan, you have to plan, understand how the activities fit into your schedule, the commitment that they require, the amount of effort it’s going to.
Factor in sleeping, because sleeping is important to stay healthy and really make sure it’s going to contribute to not only your experience but your application. Make sure you’re dedicating yourself to the time, dedicating your time to the things that shape you as an applicant that you really enjoy, that you’re passionate about and that you can actually fit into your schedule.
Because the last thing you want to do is overwhelm yourself and end up burning out and not really getting as much out of the activities that you’re involved. Now, how can students balance extracurriculars with schoolwork, with applications s, sophomores and juniors? It’s hard. Which is why I always keep an extensive Google Calendar and I recommend you all do too, but know what is possible, right?
But also what is reason. The college application I often tell students is basically a part-time job, and that is something for sophomores and juniors to really understand. As you get into the meat of the college process, it factors out as about a part-time job. So evaluate your current schedule, what’s working, what isn’t.
Are there things that you’re involved with that just aren’t really there purposefully, and could that time be used? You know, are there places where you can take an advanced class and also pick up an internship and does your schedule fit that? Really make sure you know your schedule and what is reasonable for you.
This one is important for you. Juniors who will be rising seniors. I don’t want to hear about senioritis. Avoid the senioritis excuse as much as possible. You have to maintain academic performance and commitments as much as possible. If colleges see that you go into your senior year and you have dropped all of your advanced classes and you have started to leave your activities, that does not look good.
I repeat does not look good on your application. Just because junior year is the big academic year doesn’t mean you start slacking in your senior year. You need to absolutely maintain those commitments, as I said, factor in the application process because it does take time and then make a plan.
Organization is, is really, really key to being successful. In high school, in the application process in college. So this is a great time to start practicing your organizational skills and understand that the more organized, the more successful you are going to be throughout this process, and the more it’s really going to help you.
All right. Final tips on how you can finalize your extracurriculars. As I said before, focus on your extracurricular profile. This is about you. This is about being unique. I often say this is about being quirky for the students that I work with. Don’t be ashamed of the weirdness and the quirkiness and the interest that you.
Capitalize on them, make them important because those make for the most interesting applications to read. Align your activities with overall application narrative that you’re creating. So for sophomores and juniors, you really wanna start thinking about the fact that your application is not just essays, activities, letters of recommendation, that are all separate pieces.
You need an overarching narrative. You need an overall synthesis of who you are. This is what we call the application narrative, so start thinking about how you want to represent yourself. This is your first personal PR campaign. This is your chance to say, I’m Joseph Recupero and this is how I want you to see me.
And then make sure the activities that you are pursuing align with the way you want to be seen or create skillsets that help. Add to the way you want to be seen. The next one really is if it’s important to you, make it happen. You know, there are a lot of obstacles in this world and there always will be, and some of them are very hard to overcome.
But if there is something you want to do or something you want to pursue, try any way you can to make it possible and persevere and really make the use of your time that you want to. And if you can’t make it happen, at least you’ve tried to make it. And most importantly, and this is something that I really want you all to remember, because I know how stressful the college process can be.
Trust me, I have applied for masters, I’ve applied for PhD, I’ve, I’ve done all of these application processes that make you want to pull your hair out as you can see. But do what you enjoy. Be yourself, find joy in what you’re doing, be purposeful, and really enjoy your high school experience. You only get one of them.
And it’s not just about building up a profile for college, it’s about enjoying the time you have in high school. Because when you enjoy what you do, that comes out in your applications and we will see that when we are reading your applications. So that is something that is very, very, I.
I absolutely love that. I think that’s a really great note to end on. And so that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information to be helpful. And remember, you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. I know that wasn’t published earlier, but it should be published now.
So those are available. Moving on to the live Q&A. I’ll read through the questions you submitted in the Q&A tab. Some of them have been answered in writing already but some of them have not. So we’ll visit those. I’ll pace them into the public chat so everyone can see them, and then read them out loud so that Joseph can answer them for us today.
As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing. So I have our first question here. Joseph, in your opinion, what is the ideal range of volunteer hours in total in order to appeal to colleges?
Good. So this is a question that I get a lot. And honestly, I, I don’t have an ideal range. I think you need to be volunteering absolutely. Like you need to have volunteer work, but I also say you need to have purposeful volunteer work. Colleges don’t want to see that you have just kind of done a sporadic, random amount of volunteering just to hit that, I don’t know, a hundred hours, 200 hours, whatever.
Ridiculous number it is that we kind of look at now they want to see that you have really put your time and effort into some, they, they wanna see that you can show for your work, right? That you’ve done volunteer work that you have purposefulness in. So I don’t necessarily have. And exact number.
Stacey, if you do please. But I think it’s more about purposeful volunteer work. I totally agree with you. I think if you get wrapped up in the Nu total number, then I think that means you’re not actually. Pursuing an opportunity for the sake of actual actually being able to enjoy that. To Joseph’s last point on that final slide, you wanna make sure you’re doing things you’re passionate about and not trying to check off a box.
And as soon as you, you’re doing something just for the sake of checking off a box, it might not be a valuable experience for you and it might not be the best thing to do to inform your application. That being said, you know, you have a lot of hours dedicated to a particular activity, community, servicer.
Otherwise, obviously that is looked upon favorably because it shows a commitment to that activity. So a good number of hours is a good thing. But don’t, you know, folk get so caught up in, oh, I don’t have a hundred hours, or whatever that looks like. So another question. We have here, and actually these two are sort of related.
What sort of insight do you have, Joseph, and I can, I can talk to you about this a little bit too, around pre-med based extracurriculars kind of medical research, things of that nature, people who are pre-med focused. What kind of advice do you have there? Sure. So pre-med focused, I know one of the, one of the issues people sometimes run into is volunteering at hospitals sometimes requires, or some programs at hospitals require an.
Limit, like being 18 to pursue them. Don’t let that stop you. Job shadowing often does not have an age limit on it. So while some hands-on internships might, job shadowing does not. So I always say for the medical field, more than anything, Forgive the gruesome of this, but see the needles, see the blood, get in there and, and see it because if it’s not something you like, it’s definitely not something you want to dedicate your entire life to.
You don’t want to be that person that gets into their first year of med school and realizes they absolutely hate everything they’re doing. So take the opportunity to get the hands on experiences as much as possible, especially in pre-med fields. But in any field really. If you don’t find some, if you don’t find enjoyment in what you’re doing, It’s not really going to help.
But if you’re interested in things like the biological sciences or pre-med, I do think research opportunities are great things to pursue and something that colleges really like to see because it shows that you’re not just taking the AP bio exam right and doing well on it. It’s showing that you dedicate your time and that you actually have a.
Interest within that field. Some of my most successful applicants in pre-med programs, in psych programs and things like that are students who have said either officially or unofficially, here’s the project I’m going to pursue because this is my specific interest within that field. And then really go after that.
Yeah, I would, I would totally agree with everything you just said. I just wanna remind everyone, please put your Q&A in the Q&A section. Don’t private chat. It’s hard to manage between the two, so if you could share ’em there, that would be great. Before we move on to more questions as well, I just wanted to take a second for those in the room who are already working with us, We know how overwhelming the admissions process can be.
Our team of over 400 former admissions officers and admissions experts like myself and Joseph are ready to help you and your family navigate. All of it in one-on-one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admissions journey by setting up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team, and you can use the QR code on the screen to do that.
Now, during this meeting, we’ll review your current extracurricular list and application strategy, discuss how they line up with your college list and outline the tools you. Stand out in the competitive admissions world. And so that really allows an individual conversation in relation to this topic.
So now back to the Q&A. We have a lot of questions lining up here, so I can’t remember if this was answered here, Joseph. What publishing opportunities are out there? If you can speak to this, if if somebody’s already written a research paper via a summer program I’m not sure if you can really speak to this specifically.
Give your pt what, what is your insight on that answer? Sure. So I don’t have the specific, like, this is where you can publish. But I would say if you are working with professors or teachers, they’re, they’re the resource in, in, in that point, go to the people that are doing the research with you who may sponsored it with you.
If you’re doing it through an organization, speak to them. They’re the ones that will know the really important places for publication that your work can go. But yes, I, it, it’s hard to just kind of name off exact journals or things such as that because there’s just too many. So I would go to the people you’re working with kind of for those answers.
I totally agree. So the next question here, is there an ideal balance between a major career related set of extracurriculars, an unrelated ones ideal balance. Again, I, I don’t have a ratio for you. It, it, it just all needs to be purposeful. That’s, that’s really what it comes down to. Like does it inform us in some way about you and can you weave it into that overall narrative?
Because the overall narrative doesn’t perfectly need to tell me you are an anthropologist, or you are a future doctor, or you are a historian, but it needs to tell me who you are as a. The skillsets you have and, and the overlapping interest that you have. And so there is a fine line between a bunch of randomness and overlapping interests and overlapping interests can make for really compelling application narratives.
So I always go back to the golden rule of make sure everything is intentional and aligned with who you are. MG interests. Great. Relatedly, is it a good idea to take a class at a community college? How does that fit into the, the. Yeah, I think additional educational opportunities are fantastic and taking community college classes does show colleges that you understand how college classes are structured because they are often structured differently than high school classes.
Their pace is a little faster. And it shows that you’re able to kind of. Start to adapt and understand the level of rigor that colleges expect. And especially if you’re doing it in your, your intended career field, it shows that you’re ready to really jump in there and learn more about what you wanna do.
So I, I definitely think that’s a great opportunity. Great. Our next question has to do with letters of rec. And I can speak to this a little bit. So how many and what subjects when should you be looking for this? So, typically junior year is when I advise a, a student. It’s never too early to start looking at teachers who might give great letters of recommendation, but I think end of junior year is a great place to start.
I usually encourage getting in front of a teacher at that point, asking them in person and then following up in an email. It’s always good to get it in writing and say, you know, Glad that we had this conversation. I’ll follow up with you in August when the application opens. Here’s my resume, I’ll update you on my activities later.
So they have the information that they need to write you a really strong letters of rec. And I believe Joseph, can you remind me? I think it’s two letters of recommendation from teachers and one from a counselor. Is that. So it’s one teacher, one counselor required, and then your third one can be also from a teacher or a coach or a, a research sponsor or something like that.
Yeah. Okay, great. Thank you. And so that third letter recommendation has flexibility. Subjects truly don’t matter. What matters is that the individual. With a letter of recommendation can speak to who you are as a person in a strong way to your character, to your qualities, to how you performed in the course.
Choose somebody who actually knows you and I that this means somebody who maybe didn’t teach a hundred person class and you got a great grade, but maybe they didn’t have a great relationship with you or a direct relationship with you. Pick somebody who can really speak to who you are. Joseph, do you have anything to add to that?
No, a hundred percent. Always like to tell stories about, I’ve had STEM applicants who choose their AP English teachers because the AP English teachers is the one that got to know them the best. So always go with who knows you, not just, oh, they taught a major That relates to what I want to do. Yeah. Great.
That’s awesome. The next two questions have to do with qualifiers for extracurricular. So I would say absolutely nonprofits are a good way to get some extracurricular experience. I also would say that learning a foreign language in your spare time is a great way to kind of showcase your initiative.
Mm-hmm. So those are the next two. The next question after that is what if you’re in a club like beta in which you volunteer consistently, but don’t record your hours? Again, this speaks back to what we were just talking about earlier where the hours don’t necessarily matter. I do think it matters if you are passionate about what you’re doing and if you know you actually do enjoy what you’re doing that.
Make your application stronger. And Joseph, anything to add to that? Yeah, and just keep in mind that on the applications, you aren’t going to actually list an exact amount. I mean, you can, the exact amount of hours you volunteer, it’s just going to ask for average hours per week and how many weeks per year.
So that’s really what you need to kind of know, like what is the average, you do it in a week and what is the average? You do it weeks throughout the year. That is really what they want to know as far as timeframe, and then they’re looking more for what you did with your time. Great. Yeah, that’s perfect.
It might be useful to look up an example of a common app. Mm-hmm. Or the application that, or if it’s a coalition app, whatever that looks like for you, just to see what that looks like in advance of the application opening. I always recommend that to students. Will there be a. To explain extracurricular activities.
So we just touched on that. Mm-hmm. Or just the role they played. So there is a little section limited in words Yes. As to how you would describe your activity. So again, look that application up and see what that looks like as an example. It doesn’t change much, if at all, from your tier. Students are asking about applying to engineering type colleges like m i t and presenting your narrative there you know, interest in robotics, things like that.
Can you, do you have any experience, Joseph, with a student who might have, or students who might have had that kind of lens and activity within medical pursuit? I do. Yes. So I have, I have, I’ve, I’ve gotten two MITs which is always exciting cuz it’s MIT. But I’ve got, I’ve worked with students who got into a lot of fantastic engineering programs, but if your essay is just, this is why I want to pursue engineering, or this is why I want to do robotics.
Save it for a supplement. The, the personal statement is your handshake to the admissions committee. It should be the things that they need to know about you or they wouldn’t know you at all if that’s your interest in robotics. Absolutely. But make sure it tells them about you and not just your interest.
So that’s often what I ask students. It’s kind of a corny, philosophical question, but I ask them, if I met you, what is the thing I need to know about you? Or I just wouldn’t know you at. And kind of take that and use it as a way to build up your personal statement. Okay, great. Thank you. I would I’d like you to speak now, if you don’t mind, Joseph, to Ivy applications and the number of extracurriculars or if there’s a difference in the way you would approach extracurriculars for those interested in Ivy or maybe top 20 schools.
Mm-hmm. Do you have any insight there? I do, and, and my answer is often not what people expect. But my answer is no. I don’t think there’s a difference. I think you should treat Ivy applications like you treat every other application. I think you should put maximum effort, maximum work, maximum personality into every single application that you submit.
And I think, again, the Ivys are looking for you to do. With your time, what represents you? What represents your passions? What represent your commitments? Sure. We understand that the Ivy Leagues are going to have ridiculous expectations, but that doesn’t mean that they expect everyone to be doing a.
You know, creating a, the next moon landing, I the like, they don’t expect that out of you, but they do expect you to use your time wisely to show your passion and to be passionate about the things you do. But I really will say, and this is something I want you all to hear, treat every application as if it’s an Ivy, an Ivy League application, or a top 20 application because it’s, it’s valuable.
I, I did not go to a top 20 school. The education I got was phenomenal and I had to create an extremely strong application to get into the school I got into. So treat every application as an Ivy League application. Yeah, I, I would as somebody who went to an Ivy League school, I a hundred percent agree with this.
I wanted to talk a little bit too, Joseph this is a really interesting question about balancing grades with extracurriculars. Mm-hmm. So the question is more pointedly, is it okay to have your grades kind of fall I, in order to have stronger or more extracurriculars? What are your thought. No I’m, I’m gonna absolutely say no on that one because this is where I said think about what’s possible, but also what’s reasonable, right?
Because in college, the college doesn’t want you to say, oh, I’ll take all Bs and Cs just so I can do your study abroad program, right? So they are taking your high school experience as kind of a mini model of what your college experience may be like on their campus. So it is about finding the balance instead balancing really good a.
With extracurriculars and not overwhelming one versus the other. I totally agree with you. I think you do want to establish that balance and really avoid burnout and focus on your mental health too. It’s important to take care of yourself in the middle of all that. Are activities such as National Honor Society highly regarded within the application process?
A hundred percent. I would say national and state level activities are looked upon favor. I wanted to ask you, Joseph, about the right time for shadowing and doing research. I know you talked about this a little bit but is it, you know, crucial to do that shadowing that research and I I think in particular, the research part as a high school is kind of hard.
Is it crucial to kind of do those components during high school or is it okay as a. Student to maybe focus on other things. It absolutely is. And there a lot of the times there aren’t these research opportunities, right? Most high schools don’t have them. So I don’t want you to think it’s something you absolutely must do.
And sometimes job shadowing isn’t something that’s available. You know, it’s, it’s working with what is available to you and the opportunities you have around you. I didn’t do research until I got to college. Now anthropological research is. Maybe I did, maybe I just sat around and watched people while I was in high school, but it didn’t count as actual research.
So it is okay to not do research or not do some of these opportunities until you get to college again. It’s about making the most of the opportunities you have in front of you. Yeah. Great. Yeah. A couple actually interesting questions here about recommendations around finance and business majors.
Mm-hmm. You know, just so an initial thought here for the students interested in this, I would actually start with your school. Talk to your counselors, talk to your teachers. See if they have things like DECA or groups that focus on finance. Business, see if there are courses at your school that focus on the topic.
Maybe community activities that focus on the topic. Joseph, do you have any additional advice there? We love FBLA. Mm-hmm. It’s a great organization, but also there are a lot of opportunities. And I don’t have the names off of the top of my head, I apologize, but you can, guidance counselors will know this.
You can look them up. There are a lot of like young entrepreneurship opportunities it for high schoolers. So if you are interested in kind of the entrepreneurial side of things or you have a project or an app, Who knows what that you might want to pursue. There are opportunities to apply for, you know, grants and funding to be able to do that.
So that’s also something you can look into. Great. What are some good sources to find internships and shadowing people? Some insight on my end, you know, we do have that. Great. You mentioned earlier, and I shared it in an answer in the Q&A, that great opportunities website from CollegeAdvisor.
You could look into community organizations or. Into your high school to see if they have recommendations for internships. And you can leverage your local network. You know, even if you’re shadowing a doctor or a researcher, if you have somebody in your family or your friend network or even your personal doctor, you can leverage that.
Or you can do research on your own time and what we call cold emailing, reaching out to folks, doing research in your area. Just, do you have anything to add to that? Nope, that’s always, I agree with all of that. Okay, great. I am just looking for some that are a little less, you know, pointed. What if you are in multiple sports and clubs, but you don’t have any leadership roles?
What are your thoughts on that? Yes, so leadership role, being a leader does not always mean having a leadership. Role. It just means doing things that leaders do. So when I help students with applications, I often talk about unofficial leadership. So are you stepping up in those clubs and organizations or sports teams even though you don’t have the official position?
And can you describe the ways you’ve stepped up in your application? So being a leader doesn’t mean you have to have the title. You can have unofficial leadership as well and really highlight that on your. We have a time for maybe one or two more questions. Mm-hmm. Any insight into what experiences might be helpful for humanity?
A humanities major, potential humanities major? Any suggestions? Yeah, again, it really is what you’re interested in, but I know a lot of humanities revolves around you know, you, you do definitely wanna develop your speaking skills and your critical thinking skills. You know, quiz bowls, speech and debate.
These are great opportunities to do so. If, you know, history clubs, English clubs but it, again, it really is just about finding opportunities to build up the skillsets. It doesn’t necessarily have to directly align.
Great. What would be good activities focus on after already committing to a college? So in your junior and senior year, what would you recommend there? Oh, so you’ve already committed So some colleges have pre-college programs like summer opportunities where you can go early and get to know your friends.
Those are always great programs. I know a lot of colleges have pre, pre-college program, kind of get adapted to college. I would just say Don’t kind of knock your activities off after you’re accepted into college, right? You should be doing them in the first place because you enjoy them. So finish out, finish out your senior year strong and enjoy the time you have in those clubs and activities.
Wonderful. So with that, I do wanna wrap up our session today. Thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our presenter, Joseph. That is the end of our presentation the webinar here today. We had a really great time telling you about Building Your Extracurricular Profile as a High School Sophomore and Junior. I am listening. Here are April webinars for your reference in case you’re interested in attending additional webinars after today. And we hope you have a great night everyone. Thank you all for coming.