Finalizing your Extracurriculars as a High School Junior

As a student signing up for many extracurriculars in high school, it can be challenging to figure out which ones are more important than others. Join as Joseph Recupero provides recommendations on which extracurriculars are the most important to focus on as a high school junior. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 05/17/2022

Webinar Transcription

2022-05-17 Finalizing your Extracurriculars as a High School Junior

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Finalizing your Extracurriculars as a High School Junior. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet.

Hi there. My name is Joseph Recupero. Uh, I am a former admissions officer and advisor. Um, I have my master’s in anthropology from Columbia university and I will be starting my PhD in anthropology from the university of California Davis next year. Great. So real quick, we’re just going to start off with a quick post.

So how many extracurriculars have you participated, participated in so far? Zero one to two, three to four and or five or more. And while we wait for those answers to roll [00:01:00] in Joseph, can you tell us a little bit about the extracurriculars you did when you were in high school? Yes. So I was a little all over the place when I was in extracurriculars in high school.

I was a part of two different academic teams, mathletes and Quizbowl, I was part of theater. I was a two sport athlete. Oh, my, yeah, I was, I was part of a little bit of everything, um, which nowadays I’ve learned kind of maybe look sporadic. Um, and we’ll get to talk about a lot of that today, but yes, I was involved in a little bit of everything.

Definitely Quizbowl is always fun because just knowing random facts. So it’s looking like we have 3% of students are in zero. Um, zero activities. 32% are in one to two 41% are in three to four and 24% are in fiber or more and real quick. If anyone is having sound issues, please try logging out of the webinar and logging back in that usually fix it, fixes it, or if you’re wearing [00:02:00] AirPods that can make it a little bit harder to hear, and the webinar is being recorded.

If you would like to view this information again, and you can control the sites. Awesome. So welcome everyone. This is a fantastic time of year to be meeting together for this webinar. This really is high time for juniors in the admission cycle. You are really finishing out one of the most important years in your process.

You know, this is the last full year of grades that are going to show up on your application. Yes, your senior year grades are important, especially your first semester. Schools will often request your mid-year grade reports, but junior year really is the last full year that you’re going to include on your transcripts.

This is also the time when you juniors should be solidifying those final relationships and asking for your letters of recommendation, giving your teachers enough time to be working on them over the. And although you can actually start the admissions process as [00:03:00] a junior, even though you don’t submit your applications until the fall of your senior year, we’re actually at about six and a half months until some of those early decision applications are due.

And so this is really the time you can be taking your standardized tests such as your act or your sat, definitely building your college list, um, and doing tours with your college lists. This is a great time to start solidifying getting in contact with different schools. You can also be touring this summer to really get that on-campus experience.

This should also be the time that you are starting to brainstorm your personal statement. This essay generally takes a good amount of time, especially with redrafting. And so if you haven’t started brainstorming now is the time to really make sure you’re doing. And you also need to be choosing your courses for your senior year.

Colleges expect to see a strong academic trajectory, not only in your grades, but in the courses you’ve selected to take. So this is really a crucial time, [00:04:00] but on top of all these other things, this end of junior year and the summer before senior year really is the time to be finalizing your, your extracurricular activities.

So let’s talk about quantity versus quality. How many extracurriculars should students really be including on their application? I was one of those students, as I said at the beginning that did a little bit of everything. So it was a bit difficult to choose my activities. But the first step in answering this question is really knowing your application.

Different applications do require different slots for your extracurriculars. The common application, which is the most commonly used application in the United. Allows you to list five honors and awards, and then allows you to also include 10 extracurricular activities. The coalition app, which is used for many schools, including schools in Texas, [00:05:00] allows you to list eight extracurriculars.

And the university of California system application gets a little generous. They allow you to list 20 different extracurriculars on your application. So first and foremost, it’s about knowing what space you have. It’s also really about knowing your experience. It is not necessary to fill every single one of the available slots.

If you are filling every single slot on the university of California application, I don’t know if you’re still sleeping. So you do want to make sure that you know, your experience and you understand what are those main important extracurriculars that you’ve been working on? What have you dedicated your time?

Those are the things that you really want to include in these applications and make sure, you know, the key areas that colleges are going to be looking for first and foremost, colleges want to see leadership now, is it great to be president or [00:06:00] vice-president? Absolutely. But it’s also about knowing where you have leadership potential and different leadership experiences that you can highlight through your extracurriculars and being able to show the impact you’ve had through those leadership positions.

A second very important area is volunteering and community service colleges expect students now to be committed to their local community and the world around them. And they are going to want to see you demonstrate that through volunteering, but because volunteering is so standardized, just make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about.

Make sure the time you’re giving has purpose and as well, you. The third thing that colleges will look for. I like to call them stand out opportunities. And some of these include internships or job shadowing in your chosen career, field, summer research programs or university programs or different summer camps around [00:07:00] majors that you may be interested in.

These are the types of experiences that really allow you to step out of your high school comfort zone and show that you have made advances into the field that you’re interested. And then of course, a lot of what we’re going to talk about today is colleges are looking at your overall involvement. As I said, I applied 10 years ago and my extracurricular was today.

What actually looked quite sporadic to an admissions officer. I was too all over the place. I didn’t have a purpose for all of the activities I was choosing. And so this is really about tailoring your experience and being able to not just have a list of things you’ve done, but an extracurricular profile that really stands out and with each activity, having a purpose and an intent behind what you’re doing.

So the most important application elements where to extracurriculars fall. This is [00:08:00] often a question I get when advising. You know, how important is this section of the application versus that section of the application? And I am very honest with my students. You are evaluated as an overall applicant. And so each section is equally important, but it’s also about how they come together on your application.

So the way I like to answer this question is what do your extracurriculars show to an admissions officer? What can they really learn about you? I think one of the first things that I learned when reviewing a student’s extracurriculars are their values. What’s important enough to each of you to take a significant amount of your time in an already busy high school schedule to dedicate to why are you a member of the, you know, the African student association?

Why are you part of DECA? Why did you decide that red cross is what you were really going to spend time doing? It shows [00:09:00] admissions officers the values that you have. The second thing that shows us is initiative. What drives you intellectually? What drives you personally? What drives you societaly and what are you willing to do to enhance those drives?

Maybe you’re someone that is interested in like one of my students, red tide, a phenomenon that occurs in Florida with algae blooms. Now she was interested, but she also took the initiative to work with a teacher of hers to do a research project on that blooming algae. This is really showing initiative and extracurriculars really allow you to do that in these different areas.

Also, as I’m sure many of, you know, it shows time management is the student able to handle multiple commitments as well as your academic. We understand that you are not super men and women, you know, [00:10:00] you’re not expected to do everything, but colleges do expect that you know how to handle your time. And when looking at your extracurriculars, it allows them to understand how you can combine your academics and your extracurricular time, which is something that you will be expected to do in college.

And then of course it shows complexity. Each of your lives is different. And I, after working with the students, I had the pleasure of working with over the last year. Absolutely know that. So how do you continue to fill your life? And what can that tell us about you? How did these choices you are making, allow us to learn more about each and every one of you.

So I get this question all of the time, what counts as an activity or an extracurricular to an admissions office. Probably a lot more than you would think. There are a large [00:11:00] variety of different opportunities, and these are actually the options that you can receive from the applications that you are working on.

Um, these are the options that common app gives you for categorizing your extracurriculars. And some of these may be surprising for an exchange. For example, a lot of people think as an educational opportunity, which it is, but it also counts as an extracurricular that you can describe on your applications.

Working. Many students will have part-time jobs and I’ve talked to many students who think, oh, no, that fills a slot where I can’t be doing a club or an activity, but in fact, part-time jobs are extracurriculars and come with really valuable skill sets. There are also different religious organizations, cultural organizations, LGBTQA organizations that you can be a part of in your community, sports dance, the arts, these are all [00:12:00] places in which you can really show your interests and what you value and that you fill your lives with already.

Extracurriculars are not these obscure things that you need to go seeking out that many people don’t understand. A lot of what you all are already doing in your daily lives are extracurricular activities. And it’s about understanding how to incorporate those into your application in a really strong way.

That’s going to allow you to really thrive.

Now, do extracurriculars have to directly align with my intended major. This is a very important question. And this is where I say you have to focus on the creation of that extracurricular profile. Does everything have to relate to in my case anthropology, no. However, it, they should all have a purpose, a skill set.

They’re building [00:13:00] a goal that they’re moving towards. That is what creates an extracurricular profile. You do want to be purposeful because on a lot of these applications, you get a very limited word counts to describe your activities on the common application, you get 150 letters for each activity, which is maybe 20 to 25 words, if we’re lucky.

And so you really need to know why you are doing these things so that you can then put that intention into the applications. So I always tell my students, ask yourself the following question. Why am I doing this activity? What am I really getting out of it? Why am I choosing to spend my time in this way?

What do I gain? The second question? What transferable skill sets am I gaining from this activity? A lot of students, I worked with one great student who was interested in psychology, but she [00:14:00] spent a ton of time doing tech work in the theater. And we had a long discussion about how can those two things come together.

And we talked about how being a tech worker is really allows this individual to have organizational skills, have people skills to understand the inner workings of backstage, which can play very heavily into psychology. And the third question you ask yourself is how can this actively relate to my future goals and ambitions?

Obviously being in a pre-med club, if you’re interested in being a pre-med student is a pretty easy club to future ambitions track, but it’s not always going to be that way. So just keep in mind, although it doesn’t seem to have a direct relation, as long as there’s a meaning and a purpose, then a lot of these are transferable and can relate to your future goals and your future ambitions.[00:15:00]

Okay. What about jobs and family care? Did these count as activities I can highlight? Yes, absolutely. Each student’s circumstances are different, which is something that college has taken to consideration. Some students need to work part-time jobs to help their family. Some students have parents that get sick and they need to be able to take care of them.

These are really important. We understand that your lives are complex and colleges. Aren’t going to look down on you because of the way you had to spend your time. And so it is important to understand that, yes, these are absolutely extracurriculars and it’s about knowing how to present them on the applications that is really important [00:16:00] jobs and family care show, different kinds of responsibility and leadership, as well as a unique skillset.

And in a lot of ways, these show a maturity that a lot of high school students aren’t necessarily expected to have. And so that is another area that you can really highlight through these activities. Now, how do I identify extracurriculars to participate in this summer and fall? I’m assuming this is the question that a lot of you are here for, because as we talked about at the beginning, This is really your last chance to be adding activities.

While you can do things as a senior, sometimes it can look like padding a resume a bit. And so you do want to make sure that this is the time that you are really using to finalize those extracurriculars. So this is the process that I would use to think about finding extracurriculars first, identify your gaps.

This is [00:17:00] something that I do with every single student that I advise. We sit down, we write out the extracurriculars we have, and then we think, do I have the leadership moments? Do I have the volunteer opportunities? Am I going to be able to stand out with these extra activities I do. And what does my overall involvement say about me?

If you feel that there is a gap in one of these areas, that is what you want to go after. Just because there is a gap doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to take on an entire massive project. Step two is identify what is possible and what is reasonable within your established schedules. You all are 16, 17, 18 years old colleges understand that your entire life is not supposed to be consumed by your admissions process to college.

So yes, there are probably a hundred things that you could [00:18:00] join and add to your schedule, but you still need to sleep. You still need to take care of yourself. You still need to watch a half hour of your favorite show at the end of the night, or read a couple chapters of your favorite book. So understand what is possible and what is reasonable.

And within reason, then you move to step three, seek out your opportunities through multiple sources. CollegeAdvisor has a fantastic database of summer opportunities and programs that you can check out on our website. It is a great resource that I use with my students. School counselors can also be a great resource for you, especially finding opportunities in your local area or clubs and organizations.

You can join at school. And sometimes it’s about word of mouth. Speaking with professors at universities to learn about research opportunities. Speaking with family, friends who may be in the career field that you’re interested in, these are all different ways [00:19:00] to find opportunities for yourself. And finally, fourth, you need to plan.

You need to understand how activities will affect your schedule, the effort and the commitment they are going to require and how they’re going to contribute to your overall experience and your overall applicant. It is something impactful enough to carve out time that might impact your academics. You know, are you able to work your schedule around your exams and other activities and involvements that you have being successful with extracurriculars is about planning and learning.

This planning skill is also something that will be very helpful in college when you are joining clubs and organizations and on a different class schedule than other students. And so planning is really crucial to this process. So how can students best balance extracurriculars with [00:20:00] schoolwork and applications as a junior and soon to be senior?

Listen, I understand it is a very hectic time. I have a sister who is currently a senior who’s about to start college. And all I heard from her constantly was when do I get to sleep? So you need to know what is possible, as I said earlier, but also what is reasonable evaluate your current schedule? What’s working.

What isn’t did you maybe join something your freshman year that isn’t really something you’re interested in anymore? Is there a space that that space could be taken by a more impactful extracurricular second? And I know you all don’t want to hear this, but avoid the senior-itis excuse, maintain your academic performance and your commitments.

As much as possible, colleges do want to see that you’re consistent and committed. And if they start [00:21:00] to notice that you’re dropping out of all of your activities and your grades are slightly dropping, going into your senior year, it’s not going to look strong on your African. Factor in the application process.

I tell my students, it’s basically a part-time job when you start applying. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort. So you need to make sure you have time for these additional extracurriculars or the extracurriculars you’re already involved in and the application process. So plan accordingly, and of course, make a plan.

Organization is key to a successful end of high school and a successful application process. When I work with my students, we lay things out month by month and me, myself, I use a bullet journal to lay things out week by week, make sure that you are organizing so that you’re also enjoying your extracurriculars.

This is your last year of high [00:22:00] school. Make sure, even though you’re doing all of this extremely important work for the college process, that you plan enough, that you can still enjoy.

Any final tips to fo to finalize your extracurriculars, focus on your extracurricular profile. A lot of times I will work with students who get bogged down in, oh, but this student did these things and this student did these things. And I don’t have any of that. It’s about how you represent what you’ve done.

So each student experiences unique, meaning each application is unique. Find the opportunities and the extracurriculars that work for each and every one of you and make sure that your experience is what shines through align your activities with your overall application narrative you’re creating. If this term is new to you, an application [00:23:00] narrative as an overall brand that you are creating for your applicant.

This is extremely important to the current state of admissions. Even if you have great sections of your application, if it is not consistent, it’s going to be hard to get past those initial reads. So make sure that not only are your activities meaningful, but that they fit well into the image of yourself that you are using when representing yourself to colleges.

My third tip, if it’s important to you, find a way, if there are clubs and activities that you feel you just wouldn’t be you without, then find a way to work your schedule so that it works. And of course, most importantly enjoy what you do. This really is your last year of high school. Trust me every time I think about the fact that I applied 10 years ago, it was kind of crazy to me.

And so this is really your [00:24:00] moment. Enjoy your time. ’cause the more you enjoy it, the more impact you’ll probably get out of it. And the more colleges will be able to see that coming through your apple.

Definitely all of that information was so great. And, um, but that is the end of the webinar part of the presentation. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab, and this webinar is being recorded. I put the link for where you could find it, but it’s at

Um, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions. You submitted in the Q and a tab and read them aloud before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up. If your Q and a tab is money, you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page.

Also known as the lead site, uh, because if you join through there, you will not get all the beaches up big marker. So just make sure you join through that custom link. Okay. So now going on [00:25:00] into the Q and a, this is a big concern that a lot of students have had with the past a few years, but I don’t have a lot of extracurriculars from.

Beginning of high school, like ninth or 10th grade due to the heavy COVID restrictions. Is it fine to have some more meaningful extracurriculars from 11th grade until the present? Yes, absolutely. So COVID is in a situation that none of us had control over and colleges understand that in fact, many colleges have actually added an essay section where you can describe the impact of COVID to your high school experience.

So the short answer is absolutely colleges will understand it is about how you picked back up when you had the opportunity and continue to join those clubs and organizations and extracurriculars. Definitely going up to the next question, other students asking, uh, I was wondering what defines an extracurricular.

I do 10 clubs, but I also participate in various conferences [00:26:00] with those kinds of extra. Yes, conferences do absolutely count as extracurriculars. Um, as I said, that list that the common application provides there are over 20 different categories, but things like academic conferences, research opportunities, or summer programs related to academics also count as extracurriculars.

And kind of just going off of that. Can you talk a bit about like what the time commitment? Cause some students wonder if like one-off things count if it needs to be something that lasted for months or years. Can you talk a little bit about that? It does. Yes. So it does not need to be something that lasted for months or years.

If it is a club, colleges are going to want to see more consistency, but let’s say it’s a research conference that you have the honor of attending or presenting at that is a one-time thing, but it’s a very significant one-time thing. And so those should absolutely be included on your application.

Definitely. And just kind of going back into the definitions [00:27:00] of extracurriculars, um, with the family responsibilities section, a lot of students get confused by what that means. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Yes. So family responsibilities can be everything from babysitting younger siblings to taking care of parents who are sick, or even just the general tasks that you are responsible for around your household.

These can all be described in certain ways that really highlight different skill sets that you have, um, and can contribute positively to your application. Definitely. So going on to the next question, um, a student is asking how to stand out with extracurriculars for pre-med or the IVs. Um, can you talk a bit about, um, picking Cubs for like, um, specific programs and just standing out in general?

Yeah. So standing out is really about what you. With clubs and organizations. I’ve heard a lot of students tell me, as I said, oh, I don’t have the opportunity to go to a medical conference [00:28:00] or, you know, go to this pre-med program or that it’s really about what you do in your extracurriculars to stand out the leadership moments.

You step up into the extra effort you take. The, obviously there are certain opportunities that are going to shine really brightly. If you’re going into the pre-med field, getting to shadow at a hospital. Now that’s a little difficult at the moments with the world we live in. Um, but there are different opportunities and there are unique opportunities for each and every student.

It’s just about knowing how to find them and make them work in your school. Definitely and just real quick, it is a larger Turner turnout tonight for tonight’s webinars. So there are going to be more questions as, so please make sure not to vote on your question as it disrupts the order of the Q and a section.

I will try to get to as many questions as possible, and we do try and answer questions that, um, help the broad majority. Uh, if you have more detailed niche or specific questions, [00:29:00] please do, um, talk to your advisor. If you’re not already working with us, sign up for CollegeAdvisor, so you can get that one-on-one, um, uh, advising and figure out this application process and how to navigate activities in your own special situation.

So going onto the next question, um, okay, so. Kind of going off of those important extracurriculars. Um, a student is asking, do, uh, honor societies like NHS, uh, hold importance in the application process. And just to keep on with the theme, uh, are colleges looking for a certain amount of volunteer hours?

Sure. So first and foremost, with honor societies, yes, they do hold significance on applications, but they are something that have become common throughout the high school experience. And so colleges are going to want to know what you do within those national honors societies and what impact they have in your daily life.

And what impact do you have within those honors societies? That’s going to be very [00:30:00] important. Um, as far as volunteering hours, is there a certain number? Not necessarily. I always say more is better. It’s more about the impact of the volunteering you actually. The more you can quantify the volunteering you’ve done as far as the number of people you’ve impacted money, you may have raised, those are the things that stand out.

Not necessarily just, I did this many hours of volunteering. Yes. And also, um, the slides have been shared in the handouts tab. Sorry about that. Um, but you can now view them and download them. Okay. So going onto the next question a student is asking this one is a bit more specific, but, um, do, uh, organizations like QuestBridge or thrive scholars count as extracurriculars or are those something else?

That is a great question. Um, I would say because [00:31:00] QuestBridge and thrive scholars are more. Academic college bound types of programs. They wouldn’t be the first thing I thought of is extracurriculars. And I don’t want to tell you yes or no. That’s not one that I have a hundred percent clarity on. Um, but I, we would have to do a little more research into that one.

I apologize. Uh, with Brad scholars, I am an authorized speller, so I thought that question was fine, but, um, I didn’t personally kind of as a extracurricular though, I do have it on my resume. Um, just because it, it was something that I participated in dedicated time to, but it’s more of like a college prep program, which I didn’t see as something that represented me.

So it didn’t really fit with like, um, Joseph said the brand. Um, so it really just depends on, uh, what you got out of like how you want to go about putting it, if that makes sense. Uh, going on to the next question. Okay. Please don’t vote on your [00:32:00] questions. It does disrupt the order. Um, okay. So a student is at school, a parent is asking, um, there’s a son’s interest changed, um, throughout high school and his extracurriculars were more geared towards his old academic interests.

Um, how does he explain that on the application? What can you do now? Yes. So this is a situation that people run into a lot more frequently than you would think. And while your activities may orient towards a specific major, this is again, why I always tell students to understand what they’re getting out of those specific activities.

Um, it goes back to the example of the psychology major, who was interested in doing and did a lot of theater, um, opportunities. It’s more about the skillsets and what skill sets you can incorporate into the application that makes them. There’s also always time to join other clubs and organizations that do lean towards your academic major, but that doesn’t mean everything you’ve already done was a [00:33:00] wash.

You can really take those skillsets and still incorporate those into your application. Yes. And now for the more technical aspects of like the common app and the application a student is asking, is there a way we should place our extracurriculars on the common app? Should we put our, our most involved and most impactful first or does it not matter?

And then another student was asking, is there a place to upload the resume on the application? Sure. So the order that you list them in this is actually something that I do really intently with the students that I work with through CollegeAdvisor that I’m advising. I don’t think that there’s a perfect answer.

Um, I don’t think that’s most important to least important necessarily looks the best because. You want to make sure they keep reading to the bottom? Um, so I actually customize it with each student I go through and I ask them why each activity is impactful. And then we figure out an order in which to list [00:34:00] them that makes the most sense for their overall representation.

Um, so I do think it’s about tailoring it to you and your unique experiences. Uh, another student is asking, um, they’re saying that they don’t have any honors or awards, um, or don’t have many, um, would that be a big deterrent in the admissions process? And then also just to go with that theme, uh, deuce, does it, um, hurt students if they aren’t like the president of their club or if like they don’t have any accolades or if they do a sport and don’t win any, um, like awards.

Gotcha. And let me go back. I know I missed an answer really quickly. Some schools will ask for a resume, some will not, and if they do there will be a spot to upload it into the app. Um, it’s usually on a school by school basis, um, honors and awards. Some schools don’t give them to be very honest with you.

And so while it’s great to have those that can also be where you wish your [00:35:00] national honors societies. If you want more space in your extracurriculars for extra crew, for other extracurriculars, you can add those honors societies to your honors and awards section and know it doesn’t look bad if you are a part of a club or organization, and don’t have the main leadership position again, on these applications, you’re not describing what the club or the organization does.

You’re describing what you have done. And so even if you don’t have the leadership position, you still have impact that you’ve made. And that’s what you discuss on the app. Going on to the next question. Um, and others, uh, just kinda going with the fears. A student is worried. Um, they only participate in one activity, but they dedicate a lot of time to it.

They run the organization and then other students are just worried about, um, longevity again with COVID cutting off time. Um, can you talk a bit about like, um, participation, how many [00:36:00] clubs, how long? A bit more. Absolutely. So I always talk about two kind of measures of clubs, commitment and consistency. Um, so consistency is the, or, sorry.

Commitment is the length of time. Consistency is the amount of effort put into those clubs and organizations. You don’t necessarily have to have both. Obviously both is going to look the strongest, but maybe because of COVID you don’t have the. But you have the consistency, the impact that you’re constantly trying to make in those clubs and organizations, that’s very important.

Um, because it’s more about what you do, not necessarily how long you’ve done it. Some students will be in a club all four years and have done nothing in that club. And that doesn’t show much to an admissions officer. And so it is really about the impact that you’re making one extracurricular that is hard, but there are probably more that you’re doing that you just don’t know about.

And so it would be about [00:37:00] exploring what you do in your daily life and what else counts as extracurriculars? Definitely. So another S um, a few students are asking about how to go about picking, uh, extracurriculars, if they aren’t sure what they want to major in. Do you have any suggestions? I do. Yes. So in that circumstance, again, it falls back to school.

What do you feel are the clubs and organizations that are going to give you a lot of really interesting transferable skills? I have found that one of the most popular clubs and organizations for students that aren’t sure what they want to do is a speech and debate club or an academic team. These are opportunities that are, you know, revolve around skills.

That’s like public speaking, critical thinking, um, different academic areas. And they really allow you to show a variety of skills without needing to have an exact line into what you do. Another question I often get along these lines are, I don’t know what I want to [00:38:00] do, but I want to job shadow. That’s great job shadow to help you figure out what you want to do.

And that shows colleges that you still took the initiative to figure out what you’re really interested in. Even if the job shadow that you did doesn’t necessarily align with what you ended up doing in this. Uh, going on to the next question. Well, actually real quick, um, we’re just gonna do a quick information session.

Um, yes, absolutely. So on your screen, you can see a scan code. This will link you, um, to be able to set up a conversation with one of our fantastic coordinators, our coordinators are there to take your calls, to set up a personalized meeting with a specialist like me. Um, we will be able to have a long conversation with you about where you’re at in the admissions process, what areas you need help on and how CollegeAdvisor is really able to support.[00:39:00]

As a former advisor myself, I know that we have an amazing network of over 300 advisors and former admissions officers that have experiences like me, and honestly far more experienced than me in some of these areas. And so it is a really great opportunity to be able to sit down with one of our specialists and hopefully find the type of advising and support you need for an extremely successful application process.

I know our coordinators and our specialists look forward to speaking with you. And hopefully we’ll be able to support you throughout your college process. Definitely. And working with CollegeAdvisor, you can get a wonderful advisor like Joseph, who will help you figure out what you’re interested in, what activities you should be participating in, how to really show off on your application process, who you are and what you love to really show the admissions officers, why you’d be a good fit for their programs and what you would bring to their schools.

So make sure to scan the QR code, to find out more information. Uh, [00:40:00] so going back to the Q and a, um, a couple of students are really interested in getting the summer opportunities, especially research, um, opportunities. Uh, and they’re asking, how do you go about finding them? Yes. So there are a couple of different ways.

Um, as I said on our website, there is a summer opportunities tab that you should definitely check out. There are opportunities all over the country when it comes to research opportunities. Sometimes it is about the relationships, you know, So one of the things that I do with my students and that many advisors do in our advising program is we help you draft emails to college professors sharing your interests with them, asking them questions.

And as that rapport is built, getting the opportunity to do research with them. Those are the type of steps it takes to really develop those relationships and find those options. Definitely. Um, when I was in my junior year, I was, I was in the IB [00:41:00] program and I had to do a project for this class called ITGs, which was a technology class.

And though it wasn’t a research opportunity. I, we had to do our project helping a local business organization, um, with a tech issue. And so I reached out to a local consignment shop to work on their social media and taking some cool photos. Um, it really was just about emailing them, explaining to them the project, my interest, and what I could bring, um, to get that information.

It was probably easier because it was a small organization, well, a small business. Um, so doing things like that can be helpful if you’re really interested in working with college. That’s great, but it doesn’t always need to be a college. If that is not as accessible, it could be a teacher at your school.

It could be a local business. Um, it’s really about what you make of it. Absolutely going on to the next question, a student’s asking, what if I gain a skill online over the summer, like learning programming language or something like that? Would that be [00:42:00] considered an extracurricular? Yes. Um, it would, um, those are some of the, this also kind of applies to language skills as well.

Um, there are a lot of times that people will be self-taught languages or be self-taught, um, coding, which I guess is the language. Um, and so yes, these do count as extracurriculars. Again, it’s going to come down the way to the way that you described them. If you just write, I know coding on your application, then we’re going to question.

But if you tell us what coding languages you’ve learned and how you weren’t to do it, that is definitely going to be something that’s impactful. Definitely going on to the next question. Another student is asking what are some words we should include in our descriptions to get the most out of the 150 care.

Ah, yes, this is always the challenge. Um, sometimes it’s like playing Scrabble when you are trying to write these applications, and again, it comes down to your experiences. Um, you know, the [00:43:00] one word I do tell my students to avoid is participate. Um, that’s a pretty dead giveaway. If you are a part of one of these organizations that you do participate in them and participate in the long word.

So you don’t necessarily need to include that, but really think about the verbs that describe the actions that you’ve taken, um, and use them as impactful as possible. That’s the best answer I think we can go with as far as, um, not knowing your specific extracurriculars. Um, this one is an interesting question, given the choice between, and a lot of students are asking about paid versus unpaid, but given a choice between getting a paid or volunteering, um, job, if it’s like the same position, is it better to have the volunteer position or to have the paid.

Ooh, that’s a good question. And I, I will honestly say, I don’t think either is going to have a benefit over the other. It would just depend on again, what you do with that position. I know that seems to be a common answer, but [00:44:00] that really is what colleges look at, because if you have a paid position, but you’re not using it very actively, or you’re not really making impacts, then it, it being paid.

Doesn’t quite make the difference. And so it comes down to what you feel you can gain the most from and be most impactful through. Uh, okay. Um, a lot of students are in like mentorship programs where they’re the mentees receiving mentorship. Um, would that count as an extracurricular? Like if they’re, um, the little sister, a little brother and like a big brother, big sister organization, or is it more of a extracurricular if they’re in like the leadership.

Yeah. So that is more like a guidance program. I wouldn’t, that wouldn’t be the first thing I would think of as an extracurricular. I think if you are in the guide guiding position, that is more of an extracurricular, um, as opposed to being the guide D in the situation. Yes. And that’s kind of where the thrive scholars or quest program [00:45:00] kind of falls into, cause you are receiving support through those programs and listing something like CollegeAdvisor as an extracurricular would be kind of iffy, especially since it’s a paid program.

Um, so it like, um, things in those positions don’t necessarily count as an extracurricular that shows who you are as a person though, you do spend time to. Uh, okay. So another question is, um, okay. And if you see any questions that you like, Joseph, you can feel free to read them out and answer them, or you can even direct message.

Uh, okay. So another student is asking, um, sorry, I have lost my place. Sorry. I did find one that I think is an important question, um, that I do get with a lot of my students. Um, do clubs, sports that are not part of schools, Katz, um, for the athletes in the room. Absolutely. They absolutely do. Um, so, you know, being on a running [00:46:00] team or being on a badminton team or, you know, club soccer, those do count as extracurriculars.

Um, they don’t have to be run through your high school, same with theater, organ, community theater organizations, or community orchestras. Um, they don’t have to be one through your high school to count as extracurricular. Definitely and going off of the, um, team sports or athletic, um, aspect of that question, um, how can student athletes, um, show their commitments and other activities, especially ones that are only in sports?

Is that an issue? Do they need other things in their application? Is it an issue if they only play one sport throughout all high school, but don’t have much time for other activities? Absolutely. So I being that I was an athlete. I think I have a bit of a skewed perspective on this question, but I do believe it is important to diversify a bit.

Um, so athletics are a huge component of high school. They’re [00:47:00] also a huge component of college and you gain a ton of really valuable skills through those organizations. Maybe you don’t necessarily have time for other clubs in school, but there may be time for summer internships or volunteer opportunities.

And so again, make sure you’re hitting those four main areas, leadership, volunteering, standout opportunities, and overall involvement. Um, as an athlete, you may have a little bit less time, but it is still important to be hitting all of those important areas. And a lot of those important areas can also come through athletics, especially leadership.

Uh, and then kind of the opposite that question a student is asking, um, are sports and important extracurricular, even if you do not plan on participating on in them in college, or do you only, um, or if you are only doing, uh, clubs sports in college, like, does it matter to how sports on application. So you don’t have to have sports on your application, but if you do them, they are still valuable, even if you’re not playing at the [00:48:00] college level.

So they’re still have valuable skills. You, you know, it teaches you teamwork, comradery, um, you know, health of your body. And so they’re all very important and you would definitely want to include them, even if you’re not planning on playing at the college level. Um, okay. This is a interesting question. If you’re undecided with the major, how do you relate your extracurricular activities to, um, the purpose of doing them?

Like if you’re going in undecided? Absolutely. So if you’re going in undecided, I’ll go back to the speech and debate example. Um, so speech and debate, one of the main skills you get is public. Public speaking is a skill that you can use in basically any job that you’re going to go into research skills, um, both qualitative and quantitative are skills you’re going to use in any job you go into.

So again, it’s about those universal transferable skills that you can direct towards the future in the abstract, instead of the [00:49:00] specific major that you’re moving into. Hmm. Uh, another student is asking, uh, can you list, uh, awards honors or activities from middle school? So that is a question that I often get.

Most people don’t like the answer. Um, but as an admissions officer, I’m going to say no. Um, although there are some exceptional circumstances. Traditionally, we look at your academics from ninth through 12th grade, and we look at your extracurriculars from ninth through 10th. Uh, so going on to the next question, um, and I’m going to add a question to it.

Um, is it too late to start adding activities? Um, now can you still get involved, but the students asking, could you expand on what you said, um, about adding more extracurriculars senior year may not, um, look good or explain why they may not look good because I want to participate heavily a little bit more in a little bit more extracurriculars next year, that would aid me, [00:50:00] which, um, feels a little last minute and I would not be able to hold a leadership position, but I know I’ll be very active.

Sure. Yeah. So I can definitely explain that there’s definitely still time to join clubs and organizations. Um, and if you plan on doing it senior year, why not join now at the end of your junior year so that you can get your foot in the door is usually my recommendation. When I say that it’s sometime.

Doesn’t look good. If you are a someone who went from having one extracurricular to 10 extracurriculars in your senior year, and then suddenly submitting your application admissions officers can kind of read into that most of the time and think, oh, well, they just want it to look good on their application.

However, as you said, if you really intend on being impactful and meaningful in those clubs and organizations, and you can portray that through your applications, absolutely go for it. Um, just make sure you’re doing it because it’s something you want to do and not just something [00:51:00] that’s meant to make your resume look better.

Hm. Definitely a lot of students try and join like DECA or, um, random clubs, even if it has nothing to do with anything, if you are doing nothing in the club, but just trying to put it on your application, that’s probably one of the clubs that you don’t need a VN. It’s really about. If you’re involved, if you’re doing something you don’t necessarily need to be present, but you do actually need to have something to write about in your application.

Yes. Uh, going on to the next question, I’m gonna kind of combine two again. Uh, so students asking this, taking a course on coasts, Coursera count as an extracurricular, and then also with students taking like college courses at different schools count, and then, um, does doing a summer program at say like Columbia, if they offered a summer program for students count as an extracurricular.

Okay. So we are going to have to break those ones down a little bit. Um, dual [00:52:00] enrollment courses fall under your academic. Um, because there are courses that are often offered through a high school and taken like traditional high school courses. They would not be what I would call an extracurricular. Now on the flip side of that summer programs are not just courses that you take at a university.

It’s usually an entire experience. That’s built up around it, say at Columbia, you’re often taking courses, but you’re also in part of it is usually leadership trainings and different activities that you’re involved in. So in that case, those would, in my opinion, counts as extracurriculars that fall under the academic section of extracurriculars, just as a research program would fall under academic extracurriculars.

But I don’t think individual classes necessarily fall under extracurriculars because they will be represented through your transcripts. Of course, on the course website that you spoke about. [00:53:00] Could go either way. Um, it really just depends on, again, the number of slots that you have and the purpose of including what, what would the purpose of including that course be, if you can answer that question with a really impactful answer, then yes, I would include it.

If your answer is, I just want to fill one of the slots, then I wouldn’t necessarily include it as an extracurricular. Definitely. Uh, going on to the next question, this is, again, going to be combined, sorry, but, um, a students asking, what about self-taught sign language? Would that count as a part of an extracurricular?

And then another student is saying that they tutor their younger brother. Um, so like things that I would have framed this as like things that may not have like a letter of recommendation behind it, things you kind of do on your own at home that may not technically approve with those count as extracurriculars they can.

And again, it comes down to the ways you described. So, if you can document how many [00:54:00] hours you tutor your brother in what subjects and how you go through doing it then? Absolutely. Um, sometimes though, if you’re just writing, I tutor my brother, maybe not. So it really comes down to the descriptions and what you’re actually doing in those clubs and activities.

Um, and how you describe it. That’s why I say it’s important to quantify as much as possible, especially in those situations where it could be murky, quantified as much as you can. Definitely. Uh, this is an interesting question on the social media and, uh, the students saying lots of students show their extracurriculars by tagging universities, um, on social media, but they do not have an account.

Um, they’re asking, is it necessary? Do they need a sign up? Um, will it hurt them to like a lot of students are posting, like what they’re doing at school and then tagging universities. Is that important at all? It’s.

No. Um, um, [00:55:00] universities do not have the time to go through every tag that is being placed on social media. It comes down to what’s in your application, um, and it comes down to the direct contact you have with universities. Now, if you’re reaching out to an admissions counselor asking them questions, speaking to a professor that is very different than tagging a university in a social media accounts, um, being very honest as someone who’s been through those stacks of applications, there’s just not time to be going through every hashtag we receive that generally goes to the, um, public relations department anyway.

Um, so it’s not something you should be particularly stressing. Uh, so going on to the next question, um, another student is asking, um, would a class in which you, um, shadow other doctors kinda as an extracurricular, so kind of framing this as like, uh, do class projects or assignments that you’re doing in school, [00:56:00] count as extracurricular since therefore a class, but you technically do them outside.

Sure. So that’s going to come down to a case by case basis. I would say if you are shadowing medical professionals that is, or shadowing job professionals in general, that is an extracurricular, the shadowing the class, not necessarily, but the actual shadowing opportunities would be considered extracurriculars.

Um, so if there are the, even again, I’ve worked with students that have done additional research. Built off of a class they took, but then took the research into their own hands, attempted to publish papers, different things like that. That’s an extracurricular, not necessarily the class in which you did the project.

Uh, I’m just gonna ask a similar question again. Cause a lot of students are interested. Um, students are worried like, um, if doing volunteer or something, unpaid is more important than doing paid work. Like I guess with the [00:57:00] connotation of like volunteer work is like altruistic and then paid work is like paid work.

Um, does that make a difference in the application? How can students structure it in a way that still has that altruism even if it’s paid? Yeah. So it, again, it comes down to what you’re doing. There are a lot of internships with organizations like UNICEF that will pay. But again, it’s about what you’re doing, just because you’re getting paid doesn’t mean that we’re habitat for humanity.

Um, every once in a while there are paid positions just because you’re getting paid doesn’t mean you’re not out there building those homes. Um, so it is really about the impact. Now. It also is important to differentiate a paid job from a paid volunteer opportunity or something like that because a paid job and a volunteer opportunity do tend to be two different things each with their own unique skill sets.

So you don’t necessarily need to choose one over the other in that case. Um, usually both would be possible. Uh, this is a good question. [00:58:00] Um, so what, uh, can students that are on the more introverted, or should I say, or don’t really have much leadership experience do to demonstrate leadership is leadership, the only quality that’s necessary.

No. And in fact leadership does not have to be loud. Um, I often talk to students who I tell it is about your quiet confidence. You don’t have to be the person that says this is what we’re going to do, but you can be the person that actually does it. Um, so leadership can also just be taking initiative to start to get things done in clubs and organizations and extracurriculars that need to happen.

Um, quiet confidence is just as valuable as loud leadership is something I often tell my students definitely. And not every car can, you can’t have a million presidents on one club. There always needs to be those supportive people on the ground, essentially. Um, and support is a great quality to have, even if you aren’t the one making the decisions or [00:59:00] leading being a supportive person is what all leaders need.

So that’s still important. And as the webinar is coming to a close, is there any last minute comments you would like to make? I would say. Again, as someone who has been there as someone who has a sister who just went through this process, and as a former admissions officer, please make sure you are doing things that are meaningful and impactful to you.

You don’t need to exhaust yourself doing things that don’t mean anything to you. It is more important to be authentic and show true passion and true meaning through these applications than it is to fill every single extracurricular spot plan accordingly. Find what’s meaningful to you and go out there and enjoy your last year.

And then of course, come hang out with us at CollegeAdvisor. Of course. So thank you to our panelists, Joseph, and thank you everyone for coming out tonight. We had a great time telling you about finalizing your extracurriculars as a high school [01:00:00] junior. Um, here’s the rest of our may series on increasing your admissions odds, where we’ll talk about different topics on financial aid to extracurriculars to tomorrow.

We’ll be doing a panel on the humanities majors. If you’re trying to figure out what you want to study still. So please do check those [email protected], or just go to So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and good night.