How to Choose The Right Extracurricular Activities for You

Girls basketball team
April 15, 2024
5 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/15/24

If you're wondering how to choose extracurricular activities, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will offer some helpful tips for choosing extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are not just a side gig; they are a key ingredient for student success. They’re great for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and university students. These activities offer a whole bunch of benefits that go beyond the classroom walls, and here's why they’re so beneficial. 

Extracurricular activities help you discover what you're truly passionate about. Whether it's joining a sports team, participating in a debate club, or engaging in community service, these activities give you a chance to explore your interests and find out what makes you tick. 

Who knows, you might uncover a hidden talent or find a lifelong passion that brings you joy.

These activities are like real-life training grounds for essential skills. By getting involved, you learn valuable lessons in teamwork, leadership, time management, and problem-solving. These skills are not just textbook stuff; they are the practical tools you need to succeed in college, career, and life. 

Now, let's discuss how to choose extracurricular activities. It's important to approach this decision with careful consideration and a clear understanding of your interests and goals. By following some simple steps, you can make a wise choice that aligns with your passions and maximizes your overall experience.

How to Choose Extracurricular Activities

Choosing extracurricular activities can be challenging due to the wide range of options available, limited availability, and the pressure to make the "right" choices. 

However, by reflecting on your interests, goals, and time constraints, you can navigate these challenges and find activities that align with your passions and schedule. Here are some steps to help you make a decision. 

1. Think About What You Like

When it comes to picking extracurricular activities, it's important to start by thinking about what you genuinely enjoy. Take a moment to reflect on your interests and hobbies. 

What do you find yourself naturally drawn to? What activities bring you joy and excitement? By considering these aspects, you can gain a clearer understanding of the types of activities that might resonate with you.

2. Consider Your Skills

Another important factor to consider when choosing extracurricular activities is your skills and talents. Take a moment to reflect on what you're good at and what comes naturally to you. Are you a skilled athlete, musician, writer, or leader? Identifying your strengths can guide you toward activities that align with your abilities and provide opportunities for growth.

If you excel in sports, joining a sports team or participating in individual sports like tennis or swimming can be a great fit. If you have a knack for music, exploring options like joining a band or learning to play an instrument can enhance your musical talents. 

If writing is your strong suit, you might consider joining a creative writing club or contributing to the school newspaper. 

3. Keep Your Goals in Mind

When deciding on extracurricular activities, it's important to think about what you want to achieve. Ask yourself, "What do I hope to get out of these activities?" Maybe you want to improve your skills in a specific area, like playing an instrument or public speaking. Or, maybe you’re interested in playing basketball at college

Perhaps you're looking to make new friends and expand your social circle. Or maybe you're curious about different career paths and want to explore your interests. By keeping your goals in mind, you can find activities that align with what you want to achieve and make the most out of your extracurricular experience.

4. Explore Your Options

There are a number of ways you can learn how to choose extracurricular activities. Check out the extracurricular activities available at your school, in your community, or online. Look into clubs, sports teams, volunteer programs, or arts organizations. 

See which ones catch your interest and align with your passions. It's your chance to discover new possibilities and find the activities that excite you the most.

5. Get Recommendations

Don't be afraid to seek recommendations from those around you. Talk to friends, teachers, or older students who have already been involved in extracurricular activities. They can offer valuable insights and suggestions based on their own experiences. 

Share your interests and goals with them, and they might have some great recommendations that align with what you're looking for. Sometimes, a personal recommendation can lead you to an activity you hadn't even considered. 

So, reach out and gather advice from those who can help you make informed decisions about the activities that could be a perfect fit for you.

Think about how much time you can realistically commit to extracurricular activities. Make sure to leave enough room for schoolwork, relaxation, and other responsibilities. Find a balance that works for you.

6. Try It Out

Now, let's talk about how much time you can realistically put into extracurricular activities. It's essential to be honest with yourself and find a balance that works for you. You don't want to overload your schedule and end up feeling overwhelmed.

Take a look at your current commitments, like schoolwork, family responsibilities, and even some downtime for yourself. Think about how many hours per week you can comfortably devote to extracurricular activities without sacrificing your well-being.

Remember, it's not about spreading yourself too thin or being involved in every single activity. It's about finding a manageable workload that allows you to enjoy your chosen activities and still have time for other important aspects of your life. So, be realistic and make sure to find that perfect balance that suits you.

7. Start With a Trial Period

If you're unsure about committing to an extracurricular activity, try it out for a short period. Participate for a few weeks or a semester to see if it's a good fit for you before making a long-term commitment. It's like a test run to help you determine if the activity aligns with your interests and brings you enjoyment.

Remember, the goal is to choose activities that you genuinely enjoy and that align with your goals. Don't be afraid to try new things and have fun exploring different options. The right extracurricular activities can enrich your life, help you grow, and make your high school experience even more memorable.

FAQs: Choosing Extracurricular Activities

When deciding how to choose extracurricular activities, there are certain things to keep in mind. Keep reading to learn more. 

1. Is Three Extracurriculars Enough?

The question of whether three extracurricular activities are enough really depends on you. It's not about a specific number but rather finding the right balance. Consider your interests, time availability, and if you have the time and energy to really get into them.

It's better to have a few activities where you can truly invest your energy and excel rather than spreading yourself too thin. Remember, it's not about meeting a quota but finding fulfillment and growth through your extracurricular experiences.

2. What Are Tier 1 Extracurricular Activities?

Tier 1 extracurricular activities are highly regarded and prestigious activities that often require significant commitment and showcase exceptional skills or achievements. 

Examples include national-level sports participation, leadership in prestigious organizations, and winning notable awards or competitions. These activities can have a significant impact on college admissions and future opportunities.

3. How Important Are Extracurriculars for College Admissions?

Extracurricular activities are vital for college admissions. They showcase your interests, skills, and commitment beyond academics. Admissions officers value well-rounded applicants who actively participate in extracurriculars.

Final Thoughts

When selecting extracurricular activities, follow your passions and interests. Find activities that make you excited and bring out your strengths. For instance, if you love music, join the school band or start a jam session with friends.

It's not just about impressing colleges—it's about personal growth and enjoyment. Choose activities that allow you to shine and make a positive impact. Trust your instincts, step out of your comfort zone, and embrace the opportunities that align with your passions. 

Your extracurricular journey can shape your high school experience and future path. It looks good on a college application and can even help you get into an Ivy League school. So, go ahead and choose activities that let you be your best self!

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