The importance of ASAs and Sports
The Expert View
Find out why you should value ASAs and sports in Grade 11 and 12
Read this to get the complete picture…
Extra-curricular activities are an important part of your university application, as they demonstrate who you are outside the classroom. A university admissions tutor can see your grades on your transcript, now he or she wants to see you, and extracurricular activities are a great way to show what you can do, who you are. Extra-curricular activities are a good indicator to the admissions tutors of your level of energy, enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile, they are also a good indication of what you will contribute to the life of the university. Remember, at university you work together, play together, live together
Make a list!
Make a list of the available activities and then set yourself some priorities; you can’t, and shouldn’t, try and do them all.
Choose something you enjoy doing and commit time to it.
Talk, talk, talk!
Go and talk to the activity leader and the students currently enrolled in that activity, this way you can inform yourself as to what this activity actually involves.
As we are focusing on how extra-curricular activities will benefit your university applications, there are a couple things you need to be clear about even now while you’re still in grade 10. Please don’t think you can just quickly do a long list of activities in the weeks leading up to your applications, this is unrealistic as well as being unnecessary as it will certainly not enhance your university application.
Let us assume that you have a choice of many different activities, which ones are you going to do? The ones that are directly related to your major at university (if you know what you want to major in), or would you rather take up activities which interest you and are fun? Or a mix of both?
If there is a particular activity which is directly related to your university major, then you should do that, but the other activities can be unrelates, just things you want to do. All the activities you participate in will benefit you in some way both personally and for your university application. Just a note of warning, university application tutors are very experienced at reading in between the lines; when they see a long, long list of activities a student thinks they should have done in order to boost their university application the tutors will start to think, how much time and energy did the student actually commit? Did he or she just spend an hour or two in order to tick the box and to put it on the university application?
The key to this is long-term engagement, so start now if you haven’t already done so.
You need to show genuine engagement in your extra-curricular activities; you need to show that you have benefited from doing them and hopefully you can also show that you have actually enjoyed doing these activities.
So let us now take a look the different ways extra-curricular activities can benefit you.
Great for your CV / Résumé
Extra-curricular activities will show on your CV/résumé, and this will also give an indication of the extent of your soft skills. E.g. if you are a member of the school debate team anyone reading your CV/résumé will know that you have presentational skills, work well with others you can argue a point etc. If you have worked on the school yearbook anyone reading your CV/résumé will know that you have writing skills, that you can meet deadlines, that you have a high-level of creativity and that you can use certain software applications.
Better Academic Performance
Parents and students often worry that committing to extra-curricular activities will mean a loss of study time, however the opposite is true: students who are involved in extra-curricular activities generally have better time management skills and bring a more positive attitude to their academic studies.
Extra-curricular activities provide you with the opportunity to work with students with whom you have probably had little contact before, students from different classes and grade levels. Making friends this way is easy as you all share a common passion whether it be playing in an orchestra, as a member of the sports team or being part of a theatre production.
Your initial involvement in an activity may then develop into you and a small group of friends founding a new club or society in a related area.
Experiencing the social opportunities whilst a school will accustom you to what you’ll be confronted with at university. Many university students form friendship groups during the first few weeks simply by joining a club or society.
Take a break!
You cannot spend all day with your nose buried in a book or a laptop, get out there and do something else; you’ll then be able to return to your studies refreshed and more effective.
Taking a break is particularly important when you’re approaching major exams as then there is always the temptation to try and spend too many hours revising and reviewing.
Extra-curricular activities afford you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and try new things. You will think in new directions and this will have beneficial effects in your academic program and performance.
The more success you achieve in extra-curricular activities you’re passionate about, the more your self confidence will improve. If you try out for the soccer team and become an important member of that team you will receive praise from your coach as well as from your fellow teammates. This will make you a more confident person not just on the soccer field that in all walks of life at school, university and beyond. Achieving success in your extra-curricular activities is more relaxing than in your academic subjects that is no pressure to achieve a particular grade.
Lots of life skills
Extra-curricular activities our great way to hone your soft skills.
Here are just a few of the skills you will be using, probably you won’t even be aware of it but nevertheless these will be very useful for you in the future.
- Analytical thinking
- Goal setting
- Time management
- Problem solving
- Public speaking
E.g. if you join the model United Nations you will be using the following skills: public speaking, teamwork, negotiating, time management, prioritization, leadership etc.
Some critical questions that need to be asked
Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.
Which activities will I enjoy doing?
How will I benefit from the activity?
How much time do I have available?
Will this look good on my university application?
Why this important for your university applications..
Universities expect you to have done extra-curricular activities, this is particularly true of universities in the USA and the UK.
US universities adopt a holistic approach to applications and extra-curricular activities form an important part of your overall application. After all, the admissions tutors see a lot of applicants with perfect or near perfect grades, how are they going to differentiate between these applicants? How will they decide who gets a place at university? One the most important factors is the applicant’s involvement in extra-curricular activities.
If you are applying to major in International Relations, did you join your school’s Model United Nations club? However, you are not restricted to participating in extra-curricular activities that are directly related to your college major, universities like to see people with a broad spectrum of interests. Just because you plan to major in physics at Oxford University, doesn’t prevent you from joining the drama club at your school.
And remember, more is not always better and by this we mean don’t change activities every couple of weeks just to generate a long list on your university application, you need to show real passion and commitment to whatever activities you choose to do and this means you need to be in it for the long-haul. Also show initiative, take up a leadership role, better still found your own club or society. E.g. you’re interested in studying business and there is no business club at your school, just go out and find one, this will definitely look good on your university application.
And finally, if anyone tells you that extra-curricular activities are a waste of time and that you should be studying for your academic subjects, just remind them that without extra-curricular activities your chance of getting into a top US or UK university is just about zero.
Stuff that Universities love…
Here is a list of some of the main areas of extra-curricular activities. It is important to realize that under each of these headings there are many, many different types of extra-curricular activity.
Colleges are impressed by students with leadership skills.
The Debate Team
Students on the debate team are more likely to be engaged in the issues of today, able to think critically on their feet and are not afraid to speak out – all qualities that colleges look for in prospective students.
Volunteer Work and Community Service
There are simply so many opportunities to do something worthwhile. Consider what talents you have and utilize these to benefit your community. If you can play an instrument, go and perform at an old people’s home. If you’re a talented soccer player, go and coach younger children. Do you love animals? Go and volunteer at the local animal shelter.
The Student Newspaper
Most college courses require writing as a basic skill and being published in the school newspaper demonstrates that you are good at it.
Sports are fun, they also show your teamwork and leadership skills and that you place an emphasis on physical fitness.
Academic Teams and Clubs
Joining an academic club or team shows that you’re passionate about learning and gaining a competitive advantage
Creativity is always an asset when it comes to college applications. This is a bonus in the eyes of college admissions tutors.
Obtaining an internship while in high school shows you’re capable, dedicated and mature enough to enter the workforce.
A part-time job
This does not have to be in a fancy law firm, it could just be stacking shelves at the local supermarket. But whichever way, it shows that you have the energy and initiative to go out and do something, to bring home some money and help pay for university.
What they may look like in your school
Check out and see which ones your school/community has to offer.
- Astronomy club
- Biology club
- Chemistry club
- Engineering club
- Physics Club
- Robotics club
- STEM summer programs
Writing and Media
- School or local magazine or newspaper
- School or local radio station
- School or local television channel
- Creating films
- Yearbook Committee
- YouTube Channel
Arts and Drama
- Art club
- Classic film club
- Film Production club
- High school theater program
- Any musical instrument club
- Concert band
- Jazz band
- Singing lessons
- Solo music
- Your own band
- Internships at local hospitals, labs, and businesses
- Running an online business (eBay, etc)
- Service industry job (restaurants, retail stores)
Wigsbury Frequently asked questions
Quick answers to the important questions
Is it true that the more activities I do the more chance I have of getting accepted to university?
Universities prefer you to be committed and involved in your activities; this means investing time. It is better to do a smaller number of activities in more depth than produce a long list of activities that you have maybe only spent 1 or 2 hours on.
I don’t like sport much. Do I have to do sport as one of my activities?
No, you don’t. Do what you enjoy, but try and have a spread of different types of activities.
How many extra-curricular activities should I do?
There is no magic number; try and do a spread of activities but above all invest time, and be committed to whatever it is you choose.
What opportunities should an extra-curricular provide me with?
This should provide you with a chance to show your passion as this is the quality that universities are looking for, a chance for you to match your passion with an action.
I am thinking of founding a business club at my school together with a friend of mine. Would it look better on my application if I just did this on my own and take all the credit?
Work with your friend, universities value cooperation and teamwork.