College Transfer Q&A: What Extracurricular Activities Should I Do? – Part 1
This article was written by Vince Lauer.
What kinds of extracurricular activities will make me stand out as I apply to transfer to the college or university of my choice?
Nowadays, as transfer applications become more competitive and more complex, colleges are looking for more than good grades and impressive standardized exam scores. Colleges look at applicants as a whole.
The top opportunity for the applicant to stand out as an individual is the personal statement, which explores the student’s motivation for transferring and also details some of the student’s extracurricular activities that back up their motivation. However, developing a strong set of extracurricular activities is more challenging, but we’ll discuss what you can do to improve in this area.
Two caveats before we continue: 1) Notice that we’re not suggesting that you rack up a laundry list of extracurriculars. 2) A great set of extracurricular activities won’t necessarily compensate for a mediocre transcript, because grades are the most important in a transfer application. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on with the topic of this article.
First, let’s consider the case of these two transfer applicants:
Bob’s extracurricular list:
- serves as the college basketball team captain (1st year)
- volunteers at nursing home on weekends (1st year, 2nd semester)
- spent 1 week of winter vacation volunteering at animal shelter (2nd year)
- likes to read, write and travel
Annie’s extracurricular list:
- does freelance writing for a college magazine (1st year)
- is a creative writing teaching assistant (1st year, 2nd semester)
- serves as the editor-in-chief of her college magazine (2nd year)
- likes softball and travel
Which applicant would you accept to your school? When it comes time to write a personal statement, which applicant would have a much easier time?
While Bob’s list of extracurriculars are impressive, Annie’s list is much more consistent. They tell her story and her passion. They have a theme. When the admissions committee meets to discuss the two applicants, Annie will be “the college writer” and Bob will be just another applicant.
How can you create a theme for your transfer application that will make you stand out?
1. Start early: Start thinking about your theme early, even in the first semester of college. Some great examples are education (tutoring experiences, mentoring programs, teaching assistant jobs), language (helping new immigrants, tutoring language classes, traveling), etc. Think about what you are passionate about. If you don’t have any ideas, go to the first meeting of a variety of campus clubs early and figure out where you fit in best and what you are most genuinely interested in.
Check back for part two of this article. In the meantime, what questions do you have about extracurricular activities?