Developing Depth and Breadth in Extracurriculars
Gagan shares his insights on how to deepen your commitment to your passions throughout high school and write about your extracurriculars when applying to college.
2021-07-18 Developing Depth and Breadth in Extracurriculars
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s, webinar on Developing Depth and Breadth in Extracurriculars. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Hey everyone. Uh, happy Sunday. Hopefully you can hear me. Uh, my name is Gagan Vaseer. I’m a senior advisor here as called by the.com a quick background intro on me. Uh, I’m from North Carolina, uh, went to undergrad at duke, uh, graduate back in 2013. I was an early decision applicant. So I knew from a long, long time that I wanted to go to duke applied there always go outside to garden.
And that was the end of the story. Um, went in as a, like most people do pre-med I studied neuroscience for you. Realized it wasn’t my passion and [00:01:00] ended up switching to a moral liberal arts degree, graduated back in 2013, uh, with degrees in international comparative studies and political science. Uh, and since graduating, I started my career off as an educator where the companies of the tech industry got my masters in public policy from Harvard, spent a bit of time at the UN.
And then currently I’m based in Washington, DC, where I do strategy consulting. Uh, we’ll spend today’s conversation. I’ll dive deep into extracurriculars. Um, Hannah, thank you. So today’s conversation, as I mentioned is around extracurriculars, uh, which are a paramount component of one’s personal narrative when applying to college.
And so, again, as part of your college, um, profile, you submit your resume, you submit your grades, uh, your transcript. Examination scores, et cetera. Uh, and a big portion of that does come down to extracurriculars. And so when I [00:02:00] say extracurriculars, what does that actually mean? In practice? There’s multiple types of activities.
One can really pursue and engage in while you’re in high school. So one of the most obvious ones comes down to things that are school oriented. So here are, those are school sponsored clubs. Maybe you’re playing a school sponsored sport, student government, anything that is going to be affiliated to wherever you actually go to school.
You can also pursue activities that are outside of the school that are more community oriented. And so you might be in like a, like, um, a local sports league, or you might do a faith-based activity with your local church or synagogue or whatever that might be. Um, so that’s another aspect of extra cookers that one can engage with.
Third, it comes down to professional activities here. You’re thinking more about, um, opportunities to ask. Employ the work that the knowledge you gained, uh, whether it’s through a job summer internship, some students pursue a research professional experiences can be unpaid or paid, [00:03:00] but are more around helping you get a bit more expertise perhaps, or applied learning in the field that you care about.
And then finally, of course, there’s activities that relate to more service oriented work. And here we’re thinking primarily through volunteerism, um, engaging with the local community, uh, in a more pro bono type fashion. And all of these are key components of what one engages with, uh, at different parts of your high school career.
I feel the next slide. And so, you know, we just kind of touched upon how the types of activities that one can engage with the ultimate. You’re probably thinking right now, why should I do any of them? You know, why are extracurriculars even part of the applicant process when, you know, when it comes down to it, like you’re going to a school to get.
Uh, and the reason you want to have extracurriculars are one they’re super important application process. There are one of them, they’re one of the best ways to show your accomplishments out of the classroom. [00:04:00] So schools will see your transcript, they’ll see your sat scores, or act scores, your AP scores, and they’ll know academically what you can do.
But school is a lot more about just the classroom experience. When colleges want to admit you, they want to look at your, the profile, you as a leader, and they want to understand what do you bring to the school, um, outside just being a great student. And so that’s where the accomplishments that you’ve done in the classroom really matter and activities that are a great way to reveal your preferences when it comes to passions and interests.
You know, maybe for example, your school has a very rigid curriculum, but you’re someone who’s really into the computer science in your school. It’s an awkward, awkward. Well, you know, you want to engage in those kinds of activities to really show schools that, you know, even though my school doesn’t offer it, I’m expressing my interest in computer science in this case through some external activity that I’m doing.
And finally, these activities serve as a great way for [00:05:00] schools to really assess the qualities that are important to them. Schools care about accomplishments. They care about leadership. They care about commitment and dedication. And for you, when you get it, when you get to activities, you’re signifying. If they’re going to schools, that, here’s what I like.
And here are the kind of quality that I will bring both to the classroom, but more importantly to the student, this, uh, the school community, which will be part of. And so you want to think about your application, not just from an academic perspective, but also from a extracurricular community-based perspective, X, Y.
And so a question that we get often, you, as soon as kind of pursue what kind of activities they should, uh, engage with. Um, a question that often comes up often is do I just do a few things or do I, you know, do I spend, you know, do I do, uh, just, um, a lot of things or do I just do a few things? I spend a lot of time in it, you know, for [00:06:00] most of it’s going to be a personal matter to kind of think through whether you want to go, you want to do breadth over depth, but generally speaking, it’s going to be depth over breadth breadth.
As I mentioned, the previous light activities serve, serve as a, as a means to signify and show your interests and what you care about. And ideally that helps create a clear narrative about who you are. If you spend a lot of time doing 50 activities, But you’re only partially involved in them. You’re only a member and then you’re not really truly engaging schools don’t really know much too much about you.
Like, they just know that you’re someone who likes to do a lot of things. Um, but if you can show depth, you know, you’re, you go deeper in your activities. That’s important because over time you’re able to actually become more nuanced in the space. But more importantly, you can be, you can, you can engage in leadership and you can show impact and oftentimes leadership and impact come through time.
So, you know, you start, if you [00:07:00] join an activity your freshman year of high school, maybe by the time you’re a junior by become president or vice-president, you might be able to lead some projects, lead some teams. Whereas if you engage in activity in a very superficial way, you may always stay a member and you can show schools how you, how you would lead, how you problem solve.
Um, and more importantly, what you care about. Having said that it’s as expected. You want to, you know, you’re coming into high school, you may not know what you want to do. So you have to kind of play around and see what activities you may want to engage with. And that’s really where, you know, your first year, maybe even your second year, really coming into play, it’s okay to experiment.
It’s okay to try a lot of different things out, but you want to make sure that over time you’re showing at least some dedication and commitment to certain activities. Looking at my personal experience, there were activities that I joined in high school in my senior year because they were exciting. They were interesting, they were novel [00:08:00] nonetheless, through activities that I had spent time in throughout my four years to show schools that when push comes to shove, here’s what I really enjoy.
And here’s how I’m going to signify the fact that I’m a leader because you know, I’m able to kind of grow in that, that, um, that, uh, club and take on more senior, uh, type. Ideally have impact that I can quantify. So you’re getting, you want to think about what do you care about, why do you do what you do?
It’s okay to kind of play the field and see what’s at your school, but you should over time as you’re, as you’re going through different activities, getting some clarity on what do you want to spend your time on and what do you wanna spend your time in? Uh, next slide please. And so how do you show that notion of depth?
Um, so really kind of think about four core, four core air areas that enable you to kind of show schools that, that you have depth in an activity. [00:09:00] First of course, is time or length of engagement. What that really means is, you know, starting an activity for you from your first year of high school and doing her four years by virtue of it being a very long engagement does show some dedicate.
Um, you know, there are students, we often tell students to avoid, avoid packing activities senior year, because you know, when you start four activities the fall of senior year, because you didn’t realize that you needed to be engaged in this, uh, extracurriculars schools know that people do that, it doesn’t help your application.
And so you want to really be a lot more thoughtful. And if you show the T the length of time, you’re engaged with an activity. So that’s one aspect, but the time is only your time can only tell us so much it’s I can come down to scale of impact. It’s, you know, what are you actually doing in that when you’re involved?
Are you selling who’s Jessica? Who’s just going to be a passive member or [00:10:00] someone who’s actually going to be doing activities, um, or leading initiatives that brings some type of tangible impact. So again, you, are you truly engaged in what you’re doing or are you a passive. Third comes to leadership, um, leadership and linked them to management are often kind of interrelated, but could you take on leadership as you gain tenure?
Um, and then also of course you, it shows commitment very rarely will you want to be a vice president or president of a club, if you truly don’t care about what they do. And so, by being able to take on leadership, you’re signifying to schools that one I care about this club is activity, the work that it’s doing and enough that I’m willing to kind of, you know, ticket and lead it in some form or fashion.
And then finally, of course, is, you know, self-starting an activity. If you’re going to start something novel and new one would hope that you’re doing it because you truly care about that. So you’re [00:11:00] there. But then what that actually mean the practice is, you know, maybe you go to your, when you realize you’re passionate about climate change and there’s no environmental club at your school, it’s about being able to kind of launch that.
Funky to get funding and ultimately lead it. You know, you were kind of demonstrating to your school that you care about the issue, uh, and they, of course you were going to be involved in a very deep way. Next slide please. Yeah. But at the same time, while you, while you’re going to depth, you also, of course you may want to show breadth.
Maybe you’re someone who’s kind of thinking through, you know, I have a lot of different interests and it was, I was supposed to know that I’m not going to pigeonhole myself into one character. So clearly in my personal case, looking at it in high school, I at one point want to be a doctor. So I was very much involved in helping their activities, but I always had like a background interest in politics and social and the social.
Good. And so, you know, trying to think of how do I balance showing depth of like, I want to be a [00:12:00] doctor and I want to pursue this career path, but I also have other interests. Uh, that I care about and the way you kind of approach showing breadth while staying true to your core interests, it’s a ground, your activities in themes.
So let’s say your interest for that. We are interested in medicine. Uh, there’s many that you can do around that, right? Like for example, you can, of course kind of think about how do you employ that in ways that may work a little more fungible around what you care about. Similarly, if you have diverse interests.
So let’s say you care about you care about medicine and politics and, um, maybe sports it’s okay to be involved in multiple trip defense activities, but also you may want to go deep into certain themes. So maybe for example, you know, if you want me to doctor you like double down on your medical related activities, but you still continue to dabble in the politics related activities.
That’s completely fine. As long as over [00:13:00] time, you’re showing these some deepening of interest and of course you’re building up that leadership nuance that I mentioned. Um, and then third, of course you want to show, if you want to find varying ways to kind of show your interest. So let’s say for example, you are interested in medicine.
What that actually mean the practice has, of course, you know, you can, you can do research. So, you know, you might want to prep. Maybe you want to find a faculty, a local university and do research with them. Uh, you know, maybe you want to volunteer at a local hospital or the Ronald McDonald house to show that, you know, you like, you like research, you also like actual applied public service.
Maybe you joined your, uh, a club at your school. That’s health-related maybe it was maybe your school has like a dedicated EMT club. Um, I mean, you want to kind of think about, you know, are there ways that I can show what I care about, not just through the same aspect. So like, you know, I’m not going to do, I’m not, I’m not only going to do research and I’m going to find other ways to kind of flex my [00:14:00] muscles and show schools that while I had this broad interest in medicine or politics or computer science or whatever that might be, but I can pull different levers.
Uh, the ultimate allow me to show different parts of who I am. So for example, you know, if you did research research might show the more quantity, the more, uh, quantitative technical knowledge that you have, but volunteering, for example, my show, the more public service people oriented work that you do, would you see one of balanced those, um, how you employ your, your interests so that you can pull the right muscles and posts and develop the right skills?
Uh, next slide please.
So as you’re kind of pursuing your activities, Um, yeah, first and foremost, you are a student and you have to manage your, your course load. But as I noted earlier, schools want people who are well-rounded. They, they expect that you will be succeeding in the [00:15:00] classroom as well as in your activities. And so how do you effectively balance, you know, the core that the courses that you have with activities that you love?
So, first and foremost, of course you want to be, you want to be approaching it in a very planned and organized way. You want to kind of think about again, what are my interests? What are my passions? How much time do I have to commit to the work that I’m doing? So you want to actually create a schedule and figure out if I only have two hours after school to be engaged in the work that I, you know, in clubs, what, how do I want to ask you to allocate it effectively while keeping in mind that academics always come first?
When push comes to shove, schools have to be comfortable that you will succeed academic. Because at the end of the day, you’re getting a degree with their name on it and they need to, they need to make sure that you can succeed in the classroom. And so, you know, if you’re struggling, if you’re struggling in class, you, you, [00:16:00] you, you should reassess, you know, do I want to continue dedicating time to my activities while I might be getting BS or CS likely not.
So make sure you’re always have your grades down first. And then you want to think about given the time that’s available to me, what do I want to do? Uh, and then third, it ultimately over time within noted, you want to parse down your activities to show focusing commitment. Yeah. Maybe early on, you know, you’re doing 10 different things.
You’re trying to figure out what do I enjoy? What do I not like? But over time you should expect that you’re going to be cutting, cutting down to get to maybe three to four activities that you really care about that you really enjoy doing that will also allow you to manage your course load with your activity.
Uh, next slide please. And so a quick question we had, for those of you on the line, if you could, you should, you should see a pop up right now. If you could just answer the question, what grade will you be [00:17:00] entering this fall? So we’ll give it maybe about 10 to 15 seconds. Um, and maybe we’ll see the results.
Yeah. Okay. So it looks like as of now 11th grade is, um, we have mostly people going into 11th grade. Okay. Um, but we have people going into ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th. So I think this is a nice wide, uh, uh, sample size. Yeah. I’ll, I’ll touch on actually. I’ll kind of go like, uh, uh, give an intro on for each grade.
So I think for ninth grade, when you’re kind of you’re, you’re diving in that’s the, your expert. Yep. See what your school has to offer. See what’s missing as well. If you want to get involved in multiple things, go ahead. Because it’s kind of schools expect that you’re going to spend that time trying to figure it out, right?
Like trying to figure out what are your interests? What are your passions? No, one’s going to expect you to just know, like, here’s my four clubs or [00:18:00] five clubs and I’m good to go. So take a time to explore and figure out your interests. For those of you who are, who are becoming sophomores or our sophomores, this is what we expect for you to start parsing down.
Maybe you started with 10 activities. Your first year of high school, maybe cut it down to six or seven. Think about what do I ask you? Enjoy doing how much time do I have? Because over time you will see your, your, your schedules commitments will change. As you want to start kind of parsing down your interest as well as our deepening your roles.
So first year you were trying to figure everything out. Second year, second year, you’re parsing it down. You’re getting a bit more involved third year. So those of you are juniors. That’s an era of one more clarity and third impact. So by, by, by junior year, there’s an expectation that you’re taking on more senior level roles.
Maybe not, [00:19:00] maybe you’re not a president of your club. Maybe you’re a secretary. Maybe you’re the treasurer. Maybe you’re taking, maybe you’re taking on soft power roles and leading maybe smaller teams. The expectation is that you’re taking on moral leadership and you’re deepening your experiences. And then by senior year, and then, you know, you’ll, you’ll apply in the fall.
We expect that you’ve taken on larger leadership roles. You’re likely going to be a president of the club, maybe the VP you’re leading, you’re leading larger teams and you have tangible examples of how you’ve had impact by senior. We also expect that you’ve diversified. How you’ve shown your interest.
Right? So what that means is if you’re someone who really likes good bit of my, my example of, of medicine, you maybe you’ve done the research. Maybe you volunteered at a hospital, maybe you have done some tutoring around health. You can, you kind of [00:20:00] flex your muscles and shown us multiple ways that allow the schools to know that, Hey, this interest that, you know, he or she is saying is not waste.
It’s not only going to be a very top level, but they are really confident that they, that you, that they care about it because tried it in multiple ways. And again, so this evolution is obviously one that does it fit with everyone’s perfect per uh, personal mold. You should expect that over time. We want to see deepening of your interests and then diversity and how you employ it.
Perfectly said, okay, I’m going to close the poll. I think we got all of the answers and we can. Excellent. Thank you. So, as I mentioned, yeah, things over time happen, and ultimately you want to kind of think about, and plan for changes that will happen in your high school career. So first and foremost, an expectation from universities will [00:21:00] be more difficulty in course load.
So again, you might start freshman year of high school with general ed courses. You may then evolve through honors, AP, IB, whatever your school might have, but as courses get more difficult, they require more time. As you want to kind of plan for that, that you’re kind of sure that what you get involved in.
If you can, you can stay involved in as courses, get more difficult. Secondarily, you might have increased, increased responsibility at home. Some there are, there are students out there who take care of. Their siblings, grandparents, whomever that might be, you also want to kind of think about what, how is my role is changing at my house?
And if my home that’s going to impact the time that I have available to commit to activities, similarly, you know, applications are almost a never-ending thing as you kind of age up. And so you want to kind of think about your Howell applications for jobs, internships, ultimately, [00:22:00] colleges, that’s going to eat up time that would ultimately go to your activities.
And then of course life happens, right? Like you may, you may end up moving or, you know, something might happen in which maybe there might be a disruption. And so you have kind of ultimately when you, as you kind of think about like, what am I, what will I get involved in? You have to kind of plan for all of the scenarios and make sure that what you’re actually engaging in are things that you can do.
Um, despite the. The difficulties or changes that might occur. And this is why I’ve kind of, I’ve kind of hardened this quite a bit, quite a bit, the notion of parsing down over time. Ultimately, you know, as your, as your time gets more limited and more scarce, you have to make sure that whatever you’re spending your time in are things you can justify, right?
So if you only have two hours a day to dedicate to activities, you want to spend that time doing the most high impact work that you can do that way. When the time has come to apply [00:23:00] school will understand that, you know, this individual only had a little time left and they made a decision to do this activity or another one.
And so your preferences are revealed dramatically based on what you have, obviously based on what you choose and what you don’t choose to be mindful of that, and kind of make sure you’re planning for the changes of life that do occur as you, um, kind of go through high school. Uh, next slide, please. Uh, so I guess like a quick background into me.
So as I mentioned, uh, in high school, I had varying interests. Um, and so for me, I want the one thing that I really wanted to do with kind of show, um, colleges, how I’ve employed my interest in multiple ways. And so I’m really dedicated into, uh, in a public service and volunteerism. So I did a lot of activities, uh, that were focused around either volunteerism.
So like I was in a county by volunteer board. [00:24:00] I’ve volunteered academically at my school as well to a lower class men. I had an interest in the model, uh, in the UN, uh, so I joined model UN tried my hand at a sport and did a couple of health activities. Um, this is a small subset of the thing that I did, but ultimately.
What I was trying to show when I applied to schools was one of them. I’ve got a diversity of things, but these are all things that I sustained over time. So the thing that I have listed on here are things that I just multi-year and all activities that ultimately I was able to grow into and become a leader in.
And so, as I kind of mentioned before, you have to kind of think about how do you employ your interests in multiple ways. Um, and so for me, what am I interested in mentioned was health and medicine. And so my, a lot of my volunteering, whether it was a county wide volunteer board, um, I was academic tutor and the science says, um, you know, health and wellness committee, a lot of them were [00:25:00] employing the health space in some form or fashion, which allows schools to really see that, you know, not only does he talk about having an interest in health, but he’s one shows it and he shows it in multiple ways.
And so you want to, when you kinda think of your activities, make sure you think about how, what are, what are the, what are many ways in which you can show what. Uh, not enough about me. We’ll get to the next slide. Um, so I get a bit of, a bit more about me. Uh, so yeah, I did all these. I did all the activities, but what did that actually mean in practice?
One for schools, they showed my interests where they allowed them to see here’s what he likes. Here’s what he cares, what he cares about. Um, which of course, you know, if I, if I, if I apply to college and the neuroscience major, who said he wanted to study, pre-med it allowed them to kind of see the rationale for why I did it.
You know, I didn’t pick a pre-med career out of thin air, but I had spent years and years and years cultivating [00:26:00] that narrative. So it made sense when I applied, uh, which was my second point around that narrative, you know, ultimately what, what you do and what you get involved in should reflect your broader storyline.
Nothing should seem like out of the blue or random, but it should all be both fanatic and make sense in your. And so we kind of want to make sure that, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s your activities in some form or fashion are helping build your brand, um, and our verifiers for why you do what you do. And then third, these activities allow schools to see my leadership and my ability to have impact, because I had dedicated time to my activities.
Over time, I was able to kind of grow in those activities. I was able to take on senior level roles, which helped me, enabled me to really lead projects and lead teams. And we transformed the clubs I was part of and do what I thought was really cool work. Um, and again, schools care about, you know, are [00:27:00] you a leader or someone who’s involved?
Are you going to have impact if you’re on, if you’re in the community and your clubs serve as a great, uh, signifier to do that. And for me, because I had done my thing for so long, they clearly showed, uh, leadership and the impact. That I had in high school, but more importantly, what I could also do in college, if they were admitted me, uh, next slide, please.
And then from a, from a more career perspective, um, and elect perspective, you know, these activities, one gave me clarity on what I enjoyed and perhaps me most poorly, why I didn’t enjoy. I spent a lot of time, for example, doing healthcare and medical related work. Um, and it kind of realized a bit later that that was not what I want to do with my life, but it was a good way for me to kind of try it out and then to, and a lot of bit explore my interests.
Um, I ended up pursuing, I ended up pursuing a career that was very diverse. I, you know, I spent, I spent a lot of [00:28:00] time teaching in the IRR space now in business. And for me, these activities allow me to kind of dabble into, um, you know, the various facets of life that exists and kind of figure out a little more clearly of where do I, where do I want to go?
And so could you kind of use your activities, um, as a way to get a taste of what might be out there, um, and how, of course that, you know, how and how that might implicate or impact either your broader interests and of course your career aspirations. Uh, next slide please. Okay. So 30 minutes in, um, I think the most important part of the petition is now it’s the Q and a, we’d love to answer questions as they come up.
I’ll turn over to you, Hannah. Awesome. Okay. So this is the end of the presentation. Obviously. I hope you found this information helpful. Moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, [00:29:00] paste them in the public chat so you can see and then read them out loud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page.
Okay. Our first question is I want to major in computer science in business. So what extracurriculars do you believe are best for it? Uh, great question. So again, you want to think of her about you. Of course, you want to at least touch some computer science words. So some schools, for example, have like robotics club, they have computer science clubs.
Um, so you may want to take dabble into that in some form or fashion. Um, you know, for the business side and a lot of students do like FPLA, uh, which is very popular as well. And that’s everything I just mentioned so far is of course focused around in school activities out of school. Of course, as I mentioned, you know, the four facets, the four paths of activity you can [00:30:00] do.
Yeah. Maybe it’s some. Yeah, there are students, for example, who might do research with faculty member at local university around computer science, or they might do an internship with like a tech company or a small startup. You know, if you’re that might of course also touch on the business side. But if you’re, if you, if you’re working in a startup and you’re able to do both tech work, but also, you know, how kind of build a startup up, you can kind of learn, you can come learn multiple facets.
Um, so I think, again, there’s no wrong or right type activity. And it tells you students, I say, work with, you know, a job at Google is on par of, uh, a summer job at, at McDonald’s. It I’ll make, comes down to what are you doing? What are you learning? Does it, it doesn’t work with your narrative, right? So you want to, you want to think about what do I care about?
What skills do I want to develop and what skills do I want to show is better than, you know, for example, if you were to intro, if you were to like spend a [00:31:00] summer working with. But you were able to, for example, at a local McDonald’s kind of fix their system that help them figure out, make better sales.
That’s a great way to show impact. Probably be able to show leadership and a great personal opportunity to learn something. You know, whereas, you know, maybe he works at like a large tech company. You’re probably going to be doing a lot of small things that might not be as impactful. You want to think about where will you actually learn something and really have impact.
And then of course you’ll own the opportunity to get, to start your own thing, right? Like in the modern day, like you can, you can do a passion project. You can maybe make, make your own app or start your start your own small business. There’s nothing that’s really a right or wrong activity. You want, think about your resources, your commitment I was tying you have.
And what do you of course care about? Our next question is if I play two sports and don’t have time to do extracurriculars, what should I do? I would say find time. [00:32:00] Um, again, you, again, you hit sports are great. Um, but they only reveal one part of your life, right? Unless, you know, you, weren’t gonna, unless you would go to college to study that sport and much, much detail, which is probably not likely, um, you want me to show schools the more academic aspect of yourself and more important than more professional aspect of yourself.
You’re, you’re trying to reveal to schools. Here’s what I, here’s what I care about. Here’s what I’m interested in. Um, sports are a wonderful way to kind of show leadership. There are of course a great personal growth opportunity, but you have to kind of diversify what you’re doing. Um, so think about, you know, weekends are a great way to kind of do when you activity, summers are a great way.
Maybe, maybe you can do things virtually, right? Like in the, in the modern world, You can do most things virtually. So you want to think about maybe there’s first full service opportunities. You can [00:33:00] do virtual research. You can do maybe carve out 30 minutes a week to try something new, but I would say, I think what your narrative do you want to think about, you know, will these two activities get me where I want to be?
And if in your personal case, if the answer is, if the answer is yes, you move forward as is, but I would say generally speaking, you want to be more holistic in your approach and you want to reveal the by preferences of, uh, of your academic and personal interests. Uh, and just having one perspective, whether it’s sports, whether it’s purely, you know, service based activities, whether it’s purely academic based activities, you never want to pigeonhole yourself as, as one part, you want to show the plethora of what you can do.
Um, and so this, I would say, you know, find the time, you know, kind of rethink your, your, um, uh, your, uh, Time allocation to see if you can carve out even a bit of time every week to try something new. I am not, not the answer you’re probably hoping to [00:34:00] hear, but, um, my personal recommendation would be to kind of find more diversity in activity.
Okay. Our next question is due to switching schools, I’m not able to establish myself in high leadership roles of clubs, my upcoming junior year. What should I do? Uh, great question. Um, so leadership can come in many ways. So one is course highly it’s hard leadership, hard leadership is you have the right rules.
So you’re, you have clear roles like secretary vice president, et cetera. The signify that you’ve grown over time. That’s one opportunity is taking a soft leadership soft leader. Soft leadership is more around how you’re showing impact through soft. So maybe you aren’t leading the T you, aren’t leading, uh, in a formal role where you’re leading informally, maybe you’re mentoring your peers, maybe you’re part of the club and you’re able to mentor people or you’re able to help shape systems and processes [00:35:00] to make things better.
Or you can leave some, or you can lead sub projects. Um, so you wanna think about, are there informal opportunities for you to do that, that exists for you to kind of show impact second, if there’s nothing that you can do when it comes to taking on roles in established things you wanna think about, can I start my own activity and other things that’s a great way to catapult yourself to leadership is just start your own, start your own thing to think about, like, what did my school have what’s missing?
And is there a niche that exists that I can perhaps fill? Um, so I think I would kind of focus on those two things, right? Like again, soft leadership is I think the grad fraternity show. Because there are students who will transition between sophomore and junior year. I did that as well. Um, and so you wanna think about one bag, but then two, if it doesn’t exist, can I build my own?
If that, of course is less use less school, see a lot of signifiers around leadership and impact. [00:36:00] Um, and it might be a great way for you to kind of build your brand. Our next question is, will the extracurriculars have to be related to the major you want to study in college? For example, will, will it be okay to have leadership in sports, but if you’re studying art in the future.
Yep. I think that’s completely fine. Um, again, I think broadly what you want, you want, you want your activities to reflect your, to reflect who you are and what you care about. Right? So for example, if you spent four years starting studying art and are doing art activities in high school, And then you were to say like, oh, I actually, I want to study computer science that might work, but you have to kind of just like, have some Russian running the Russian I’ll just show express interest schools.
One of the schools want to know that when you pick a major, when you pick what you want to study, you’ve thought about it. [00:37:00] And one of the way you show that you’ve thought about it is through your activities. Um, and so I guess you answered the question is if, is it okay to have leadership in activities that don’t that load, that those late your major, of course, but I would say make sure in your plethora or publish, we have activities you have at least some activities that are linked to your major, that you can at least show the narrative that yes, I was, you know, I was captain of my soccer team, but I did, I also did activities that are more aligned to what I want to study.
Our next question is since COVID hit the extracurriculars at my school kind of stopped. If colleges asked what we recently completed within that activity, what should I do? Uh, great question. So one colleges, colleges are well aware that COVID the COVID head. It was disruptive. So they will give you the benefit of the doubt, [00:38:00] um, of the fact that like, you know, you were not able to engage effectively.
So I think that’s Baldy well say here. Um, wasn’t ideal obviously that, uh, it was just opted in so many ways. And there obviously some schools that moved on as, as, um, as they were, some schools did not, uh, I will say is last year’s common app, had a section where one could explain, it could explain disruptions that existed.
And so you are, you are able to talk through, uh, you know, what happened perhaps at your school lack of activity. If that, if that could taste so exist in a common app, but I would say broadly speaking colleges, all colleges are aware that there was disruption and we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.
Okay. Our next question is, do you have any suggestions for any extracurriculars related to psychology? Uh, great question. So I know part of, uh, so if you join a little, I’ll do a little plug [00:39:00] here. If you join this wonderful program, we do it on the background, provide one guidance of activities that exist internships, for example, that might be valuable to students, uh, during the summer.
But generally speaking, uh, you want to think about what does your school kind of offer? You know, I can’t speak broadly here by psychology that exists in a national level. Uh, would you, and you wanna think about if does the school have, for example, a psychology club, maybe yes or no? And if so, let’s join one.
If now maybe I can start. Maybe you were able to volunteer at a hospital or like a psych clinic, for example, um, maybe you were able to research with a professor locally at a university who studies psychology. And so I think there actually are a lot of opportunities that can exist in this, in the psych space.
Um, if not, if not direct, you know, go a little, a higher level, you know, maybe you want to say psychology because you want to be again, I’ll go back to being a doctor, right? So maybe you want to be a [00:40:00] doctor and you want us to call you for that reason. If you want, think about your other activities that I can do, um, that are perhaps better, perhaps a higher level up, that’s still somewhat intro blank, but just, I think for me, you want more, more closely about like, what does your school have to offer first?
And if nothing exists are the thing that you can start that might be more relevant. Absolutely. Okay. Our next question is can great extracurriculars compensate for poor areas in your college applications? Um, it’s the big hitter questions. That is the, so, so you, so when you plan a college, you’re being assessed in a holistic perspective.
Um, right. So what does it mean? Perfect sat score, perfect grades while, while wonderful. We are not going to guarantee admission anywhere, right? At the same time, you know, having the best activities, but having poor grades will not do the same thing. So you also, you want to [00:41:00] have a holistic approach to how you, how you, um, deliver your narrative, uh, to answer that, I guess the question directly can great activities compensate for four areas.
Um, that the goal really is you have no poor areas of your off your application. Uh, what that means is your essays are still in your car are still in your control, whether you can craft very strong acids based on what you’ve done. And then really, it should be very few reasons if any reasons for having correct for having a poor essay, uh, and part of this program, if you end up signing up and the fact that we work with, we work with you to craft strong essays.
So that’s your such a narrative makes sense, uh, which activities, and I guess in this example, you guys you’ve touched, they would already be strong. So you weren’t concerned about you wouldn’t be concerned about that. Um, and when it comes down to the academic component of your application, um, I would, [00:42:00] I would argue by far the answer here is no.
At the end of the day, schools have to know academically you’re capable. They have to know that if, if w when things get tough from an identity perspective, when of course you got a rigorous, you will use that you will deliver it, and you can meet their expectations. Um, your, your proudest when it comes to the ability.
So, as I noted earlier, when push comes to shove, school comes first. And so you want to make sure that you’re excelling excelling in school because barring, you know, barring a student winning the Nobel prize in their respective field. Very very few schools will look away from poor academics because you’ve done a great activity.
I, uh, went Lauren Lynch. Who’s our resident, one of our resident admissions officers who was an admissions officer for many years at one of the top schools in the country. Um, I [00:43:00] think had a wonderful way of describing it, which is that, uh, admissions officers are looking to build a community. That is six that has the chance to be successful.
So if they look at you and you have perfect grades and sat scores, but are like super boring in every other way, then they’re like, okay, you’re not going to be part of the community. But on the other hand, if your academics in high school don’t make it look like you probably like aren’t capable of succeeding academically at their school, then they don’t want to put you in an environment where you’re being set up to fail.
Okay. So way better puck than I did. Thank you. I, no, I mean, it was totally true when Lauren, when Lauren said that I was like, oh my God, that’s such a good way to describe it. Um, Okay. So we’re going to take a quick break in the middle of the Q and a, and I want to let you know what you can do. [00:44:00] If you want to work one-on-one with an advisor from our network of over 155 advisors and admissions officers, you can sign up for a free consultation with us by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking the green chat button at the bottom right of the screen from there, just write in consultation and alive team member.
We’ll get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation with us. Okay. Back to the Q and a. Our next question is how important is it to fill all 10 slots for extracurriculars on the common app? Is it better to include some activities without leadership or breadth for the sake of reaching 10 or fill fewer slots with activities where I’ve had a real impact?
Great question. Great question. So ultimately you want to tell schools everything you’ve done. So if you’ve done it, if you’ve done 10 activities and only five of them had leadership put in all the 10 activities. Ultimately, we don’t, you don’t want to show schools, you don’t want to hide things, um, that you’ve [00:45:00] done.
That might be a value. So I would say that that’s one component of it too. I would say kind of rethink your activities themselves. It’s very likely that even if you didn’t have part leadership roles, you likely did have some leadership, luckily had some impact. And so you want to kind of think about when you’re writing these, these 10, um, um, activities for your common app, assess more deeply of like, you know, what did I actually do?
What impact did I have? Yes, I didn’t have formal leadership, but there are other, other things that I did that might signify impact that might signify impact or interest, um, that don’t come from a formal role. Um, so I think this partial case, if you have 10 activities, you put in whatever activity. Stack rank them, of course, based on, you know, your most important, your highest impact activity and the very top, and perhaps, you know, maybe one in which you are a member and you have maybe a passive member perhaps in the very bottom, but definitely include all that you’ve [00:46:00] done.
Um, if you can, as you, please, you should be proud of all that you’ve been able to accomplish in high school. Okay. I’ve seen quite a few questions along this line, so I’m just going to put this one, which is, I want to go to medical school. What extracurriculars do you believe are best for it? And particularly I’ve seen a few questions about like, in COVID times not being able to shadow or, you know, be, do hands-on work.
Yeah. So I’ll say this in a two part question. So I think first things first, if you think of med school after college, to me, like as a separate program, um, very rarely will they look at your high school? Um, I say very rarely because probably like 0%. Um, they care more about. What have you done in college?
Because college is going to give you more depth and expertise to actually employ the skills they care about. Um, so again, high school, so high school interest and high school experiences are really only going to have an impact on the college [00:47:00] process, less so in the graduate school process. So, so if you’re going down that route, then we’ll play little to no difference.
Uh, it’s it’s us on the second front, if you’re applying for like an eight year program. So, you know, there are, for example, BSMD programs in which you apply to at once, um, for example, brown of the great example of a school with that does that, uh, so in those situations you have to show, you have to show expertise and depth in your interest of one of your doctor.
Um, so what that might look like in your personal case is of course, heavy volunteerism, right? Like they need to show, you need to show that you’ve had interaction with the medical school. I know the patients you’ve, you’ve shadowed doctors, you know, that you’re committing yourself to an HR program. Uh, that’s going to be very rigorous.
That’s going to be very singular and focus, uh, because you’ve done the research and you’ve done the application of it [00:48:00] simply that might, that might come down to, for example, doing actual research, you know, you may be, you’re going to work with, um, with doctors or health professionals and do research ethics space.
Um, again, the goal here is to kind of show that, yes, you know, I’ve done my due diligence. I know I want to do this. And I want to commit right now to an eight year program. Um, that might be a bit restrictive in. Whereas again, if you’re applying to a general college with a goal that later on, you’ll apply for you to apply to med school, there’s more fungibility because schools expect that things will change over time.
Your interests will change. Your passions will change. And your express interest in being a doctor today may not be realistic in four years. That’s less, that’s less of the case when you’re applying for an eight-year program. And also it’s, it’s not a bad time to think outside the box. Talk to like if there’s physicians, you know, in your community, be like, Hey, what, is there anything that I could do that would actually be helpful [00:49:00] to get me into this space?
Um, I know a lot of, uh, I, I, uh, saw thing, well, I was, did a webinar like this with volunteering in the medical field. And sometimes the things that doctors actually need isn’t necessarily where volunteerism is meeting. So, yeah. So one example of that, I spent two years of my, of my, of my high school experience, volunteering at my local hospital.
And those two years were spent filing, uh, patients, patient files. It was tedious, got a lot of paper cuts, got to meet a lot of doctors, uh, because I was the one in Europe, you know, they would say like on your patient file for ABNC, I’d pull it for them. And they would kind of walk me through that individual’s case or like what they were doing.
And so was the word glamorous? No. Or the paid? No, that I learned tons. Yes. Um, was it [00:50:00] directly medical? It was at a hospital, so kind of, but it was an opportunity for me to kind of show shows in this case too, that, Hey, I know I be a doctor because I’ve spent time in this other, the facility of one I interacted with enough doctors.
I know what they do. I know how to get with. Um, and I know this is what I want to do with my life. Ultimately, I didn’t want to do it when pushed, but nonetheless, at that moment I knew, I thought that’s what I want to do. And so there’ll be times when the work will be directly related, but it might be the same industry enough that like, you know, it’s express interest because schools know that, you know, when you’re 16, 17, 18, it’s very hard to get direct experience.
Like, no one’s going to put a 16 year old in front of a patient. Right. It’s just not going to happen. So you need to find like, what are opportunities that are peripheral that you know, that you at least like in the by field you’re getting like connections, even if you’re not the [00:51:00] one actually doing something.
I know there’s definitely, I spent a summer, um, again at a hospital, a lot of hospital time. Am I in my life where I was essentially like a guide to patients to they come into hospital, I take them to where they need. I met I’m, you know, I’m having conversations with them. Am I actually their doctor? No, but again, it’s interaction with patients in a deeper level as you want.
So you want to think here broadly about like, what can I do that relevant in the right space, even if it’s not going to be the direct impact that I want to have. Our next question is, yeah. All right. How does the process of doing research include and how do I reach out to professors for research? Yeah. So the process of research can come in, come in many ways.
Uh, most of the time you, you, you, I would say there are really two pathways here. One, you know, you’re already for the, most of you were in school. [00:52:00] And so you want to ask your, you know, your counselor, your teachers, they have opportunities that exist. Um, when it comes to HR. So let’s say for example, you know, you’re interested in computer science and you’re in a, you’re in a computer science class, you express your interest, your teacher that, Hey, I really liked the space.
I want to do more with it. Do you know people who I could probably work with summer after school that might want essentially free labor? Um, so I think that’s one aspect. Two is just cold email and cold calling, you know, find a local university or college, uh, five faculty faculty that, that you think are doing cool work and shoot them an email.
Let them know that, you know, you are a high school, sophomore, junior, senior, whatever. You have an interest in this space, you like what they’re doing, and you want to know to operate for you to help faculty at most universities love free [00:53:00] labor. They love eager students and they love being mentored. And you can, and you can provide that, that very nice niche, which you’re going to kind of give your time.
You like what they do, and they can mentor you and kind of help you grow. Um, and so I’ve had students in the past, I’ve worked with that have done a lot of cold emails and this does, is it always successful? No. Is everyone to email you back? No, but you will find that more often than not, people are excited when you tell them how great they are and that you’ve your, and then you want to kind of give them free time.
And so, you know, do a little research, see who’s out there, see who’s doing cool work, um, and get involved with them. And I would say, especially now in the COVID world where virtual is more in, you may not be restricted just locally to who was around you. You may be able to kind even think more broadly of, you know, what are other universities that perhaps are regionally to me [00:54:00] or nationally.
And w and we’re the, we’re the people that are doing what I want to be doing. And can I attend to in some form or fashion help them. I know someone who says, if you don’t get told no three times a day, you’re not asking for enough. And that is what I say to myself. Every time I do cold emails, uh, Cole will never hurt you.
The worst what’s going to happen is they don’t respond. Right. And you have, you have nothing. You have nothing to lose. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Our next question is what are the types of extracurriculars that stand out most for recruiters? I guess? So there’s no perfect type of activity, right? So it’s going to be personal to you and what you care about.
Ultimately, as, as I noted earlier, it’s going to be depth, right? Like we want us, we want to show, you want to show, I like, I like this space. I like this topic enough that I’m going to want to become an expert in. [00:55:00] Too. I’m going to build leadership in it. And third I’m going to have impact. So again, that for some students that might be hanging on to a start-up for some that might be, I’m going to lead a club that already exists.
Some might do research, somebody to volunteering, you have to get to do what is best for you and what you can sustain. But ultimately is one that’s going to allow us, that’s going to signal to schools. Here’s what I care about. Here’s the qualities that I exhibit when it comes to leadership, when it comes to impact, and here’s what I bring to you and to your community.
And so that might be, it could be flashy or if we have to really mundane activity schools, are we care, cared much about like the brand of activity is what, what are you doing with it? Yeah. Okay. Our next question is what about a part-time job? Does that part-time jobs definitely counted activities. They, uh, Again, a [00:56:00] great way to show commitment, a great way to build up really, really valuable skills at schools care about time, organizational skills, leadership skills, and be able to balance school life and work life, um, is not easy.
And so I think part-time jobs definitely count. Um, and again, again, as all of the things you want to, you want to kind of think about, you know, am I becoming a leader in this space, so am I taking on, I’m gonna take on more responsibilities and a to of course, am I having some kind of impact as I’m doing it?
Um, and if you can answer, yes, it’s a great thing that you’re doing. Our next question is I’m planning to do an independent research project. I didn’t receive responses to my cold call emails. Do you have any advice on this pursuit? Yeah, so I guess a little tougher because you know, independent cities can be many, many things.
So, for example, if you did independent research that [00:57:00] requires the lab access, so you need to go more scientific, um, harder to do without a lab, obviously. So I would say continue, continue, you know, cold emailing, cold calling against Charlotte cancer network as well. You know, I say one of the most least used resources by high school students have LinkedIn, um, get on LinkedIn, Michelle, you have a profile figure out who’s doing what, and this, you know, kind of build your brand and start, start cold messaging people on LinkedIn.
It is highly more likely you’ll get a response if people have know who you are. And, uh, it can, it can see a profile just to have the cold email on the flip side, if your research is more of a truly more independent. So for example, if it’s like, like political science research that you could do on your own, that you want to kind of think about, you know, can I do more, less academic research, right?
Like maybe that, what that might look like is maybe. Around what I’m going to be doing and what I care about and make it more, [00:58:00] a passion project and global research. Um, so that you can, you wanna kind of think about one, are you employing all the right resources that are available to you? Um, beyond just of course, cold emails, you know, ask for, ask your teachers, who’ve been know, ask your friends and family who they might know, get on LinkedIn and start kind of do a call out.
Like, Hey, you know, I’m a, I’m a high school, whatever, you know, junior, senior, or whatever that might be. And I’m wanting to do research in ABC space is anyone know of anyone who can help and your chart. It started as a snowball snowball effect here to see, like, who are you going to link with? Love LinkedIn, even though, like I said, this is not LinkedIn sponsored.
Maybe it should be not yet. Okay. Um, I think this is going to be our last question, but let’s do, um, what extracurriculars help you in the future? Um, [00:59:00] the one that helped you, I think the one that ultimately helped you. Um, yeah, I, I w I, I know the one that you liked, but the other ones that are really helping you build one clarity, clarity about your own personal interests or, or dislikes.
I think either, I think either is guts, ultimately ones that are helping you build skills, right? Like when you, when you get to an activity, you’re essentially saying, like, I cannot put this thing that I’m going to, I’m going to spend my time doing this, this effort and learning that, learning that knowledge, learning that skill.
And so what’s most useful for you for the future comes down to one that you can justify that you did, which for me personally came down to one that helped me get clarity on my end. And then to one that helped me build skills, both hard skills and soft skills that I employed stilted today. An example of that would be, you know, I spent part of my high school doing like fundraising work, um, was very [01:00:00] unexpected, but I enjoyed it, allowed me to kind of build people’s skills, you know, the ability to kind of cold call people and be rejected multiple times, um, with a scale that I didn’t think I would need or want one that I developed.
And that’s been, that’s been very useful as I’ve kind of progressed in my career. And so you want to kind of think about, you know, what are you learning from activity both from a knowledge perspective and a scale perspective, because you’ll kind of look back and you hear that the activities that you do in which you’re like, you know what, like I didn’t enjoy in the moment, looking back five, 10 years from now, you’ll find that most things will teach you something that is actually fairly useful.
Even if you can’t understand that. And even if that thing is, oh, I don’t want to do this thing with the rest of my life. Very important. Okay. Splendid. So this is the end of the Q and a thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight and thank you to our panelists. Thanks everyone. Have a great Sunday evening, wherever you might be.[01:01:00]
Yeah. Bye bye. This is the end of the webinar. We had a wonderful time telling you about developing your S extracurriculars and here’s the rest of our July series. So tomorrow’s webinar is on navigating college applications. As a student athlete, have a great night, everyone.