The Ultimate List Of Extracurricular Activities: 500 Examples

Sculpture student
Updated:
December 13, 2023
10 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/29/23

Wondering which extracurricular activities to pursue in high school? Unsure of what your options are? This extensive guide has got you covered! Read on to explore over 500 different extracurricular ideas!

Extracurriculars can be rewarding, fun, and empowering. When you choose the right ones, you’ll not only have somewhere to escape when your academic pressures get overwhelming, but you’ll meet like-minded individuals that can become long-term friends, you’ll pick up new and useful skills, and will even strengthen your college apps

But how do you choose the perfect extracurricular activities? Matter of fact, what is an extracurricular activity? What’s the difference between extracurriculars and hobbies? Rest assured, all of your extracurricular activity-related questions will be answered below!

What Is an Extracurricular Activity?

Before we provide you with a comprehensive list of the extracurricular activities you can choose from, it’s essential you understand what an extracurricular activity is to debunk any misconceptions about them! 

Extracurriculars are activities you participate in outside of the classroom. While some can center around academic subjects, they are not part of schools’ curriculums and are pursued in your free time. 

The majority of extracurricular activities in high school in are found and engaged in at their school, although they may also be offered through other institutions within your community.

Extracurriculars generally differ from hobbies because they are more formally organized, follow schedules, involve other students and teachers, and aim to foster personal growth, skill development, and passion. On the other hand, hobbies are pursued independently and are done for relaxation or enjoyment solely. 

For instance, an extracurricular activity would be a book club where peers critically examine and discuss books, whereas independent reading for pleasure would be considered a hobby! 

Extracurricular Activity Examples By Category

Now that you know what extracurriculars are, the next step is figuring out which ones are right for you. Fortunately, middle schools, high schools and other institutions cater to diverse student interests, so there’s no doubt you’ll find an extracurricular you’re passionate about!

If you’re looking to broaden your interests, strengthen your college application, or simply learn something new - there are a ton of extracurriculars out there. 

Perhaps you need to write a sample extracurricular activity description for your college application, which can serve as a valuable tool to highlight your unique experiences and contributions beyond academics.

Regardless of your reasons for considering extracurricular activities, keep in mind that they can truly enhance your life and offer a well-rounded perspective. Without furher ado - here are over 500 extracurricular activities examples for you to choose from. 

Arts Extracurriculars

paint brushes in water

Arts Clubs focus on various disciplines, including visual, performance, and fine arts:

  • Drama Club
  • Music Club
  • Art Club
  • Concert band
  • Jazz band
  • Acoustic guitar Club
  • Percussion Club
  • Drumline 
  • Flute Club
  • String quartet
  • Orchestra 
  • Photography Club
  • Film Club
  • Drawing Club
  • Sketching Club
  • Painting Club
  • Fashion design Club
  • Poetry Club
  • Graphic design Club
  • Marching band
  • A capella choir
  • Choir
  • Songwriting Club
  • Rap Club
  • Bagpipes band
  • Ceramics Club
  • Creative writing Club
  • Literary magazine Club
  • Costume design Club
  • Animation Club
  • Sculpture Club
  • Ballet Club
  • Swing dance Club
  • Latin dance Club
  • Hip-hop Club
  • Ballroom dance Club
  • Contemporary dance Club
  • Tap dance Club
  • Salsa dance Club
  • Tango dance Club
  • Breakdance Club
  • Bhangra dance Club
  • African dance Club
  • K-pop dance Club
  • Bollywood dance Club
  • Folk dance Club
  • Bachata dance Club
  • Musical theatre Club
  • Acting Club
  • Digital art Club
  • Printmaking Club

Academic or Career-Related Extracurriculars

Engineering students working on project

Academic-related extracurricular activities provide opportunities for students to engage in intellectual pursuits and enhance their knowledge and skills beyond the regular classroom environment: 

  • Debate team
  • Science olympiad
  • Chemistry olympiad
  • Physics olympiad
  • Math olympiad
  • DECA
  • The National History Bee
  • The National Geography Bee
  • National Business Honor Society
  • National Economics Challenge
  • National Technology Student Association (TSA) conference
  • National Junior Classical League (JCL) convention
  • National English Honor Society (NEHS) Writing Contest
  • National Poetry Out Loud competition
  • National Engineering Design Competition
  • National YoungArts competition
  • National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY)
  • National Cybersecurity Challenge
  • National Psychology Bee
  • National Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF)
  • National Robotics League (NRL)
  • National USA Computing Olympiad (USACO)
  • National Honor Society (NHS)
  • National Art Honor Society (NAHS)
  • National French Honor Society (NFHS)
  • National Spanish Honor Society (NHS)
  • National Science Honor Society (NSHS)
  • National Math Honor Society (NMHS)
  • National Social Studies Honor Society (NSSHS)
  • National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA)
  • National Honor Society for Music Education (NAfME)
  • National Technical Honor Society (NTHS)
  • Mu Alpha Theta - Honor Society for Mathematics
  • Tri-M Music Honor Society
  • National Chinese Honor Society (NCHS)
  • B.E.S.T. Robotics Design Contest
  • Hackathons 
  • Biology Club
  • Political science Club
  • Physics Club
  • Chemistry Club
  • Social studies Club
  • English Club
  • Business Club
  • Accounting Club
  • Psychology Club
  • Engineering Club
  • Biochemistry Club
  • Microbiology Club
  • Marketing Club
  • Geography Club
  • Coding Club
  • Zoology and Marine Biology Club
  • Neuroscience Club
  • Space exploration Club
  • Peer academic tutoring
  • Peer ESL tutoring
  • Mock trial competitions
  • Physics bowl
  • National Spelling Bee
  • VEX Robotics
  • STEM Club
  • Art History Club
  • History Club
  • Academic decathlon
  • Trivia Club
  • Research Club
  • Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
  • Astronomy Club
  • Economics Club
  • Philosophy Club 
  • Archaeology Club
  • Computer science Club
  • Image cup
  • Science fair
  • Future pharmacists Club
  • Future dentists Club
  • Future doctors Club
  • Future scientists Club
  • Future Educators of America Club
  • Future lawyers Club
  • Future nurses Club 

Activism-Related Extracurriculars

Person holding sign at rally

If you’re passionate about certain social justice issues, you can join a group that focuses on addressing and improving them through the following extracurricular activities:

  • Environmental Club
  • Black Lives Matter Club
  • LGBTQ+ Alliance Club
  • Animal Club
  • Racial justice coalition
  • Mental Health Awareness Club
  • Feminist Club
  • Amnesty International Club
  • Climate action Club
  • Disability rights Club
  • Homelessness awareness Club
  • Indigenous rights Club
  • Women in STEM Club
  • Social justice Club
  • Students for education equity
  • Students for criminal justice reform
  • Youth anti-poverty Club 

There are also several activist organizations high school students can collaborate with directly:

  • Amnesty International
  • Planned Parenthood
  • ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
  • WWF (World Wildlife Fund)
  • NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
  • Moms Demand Action
  • Sunrise Movement
  • National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics
  • Young Activists Leadership Council (YALC)
  • The California Innocence Project
  • Greenpeace
  • Sierra Club
  • March for Our Lives
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • DoSomething.org
  • PeaceJam
  • National Youth Rights Association
  • Students for a Free Tibet
  • It Gets Better Project
  • Earth Guardians
  • Student Voice
  • Free the Children
  • Campaign for Youth Justice
  • Youth Service America
  • National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
  • Teach for America
  • National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP)
  • Alliance for Youth Action
  • Student Power Network
  • Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!)
  • Advocates for Youth
  • The Trevor Project
  • National LGBTQ Task Force
  • Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) (59)

Athletic Extracurriculars

Womn's basketball game

Joining sports extracurriculars is a great way to hone your athletic skills and hone your discipline, time management, and leadership skills! Remember, these don’t have to be offered by your school to be considered extracurriculars! Look into local sports organizations to join a team and participate in competitions:

  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Track and field
  • Cross country
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Field hockey
  • Ice hockey
  • Rugby
  • Cricket
  • Lacrosse
  • Badminton
  • Ping pong 
  • Swimming 
  • Diving
  • Sailing
  • Rowing
  • Canoeing/kayaking
  • Skateboarding 
  • Cycling
  • Triathlon
  • Horse-back riding
  • Polo
  • Squash
  • Ice skating
  • Rollerblading
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Kickboxing
  • Handball 
  • Javelin throwing
  • Shot put
  • Roller derby
  • Gymnastics
  • Cheerleading 
  • Boxing
  • Karate
  • Taekwondo
  • Muay Thai
  • Judo
  • Jie-Jitsu
  • Krav maga
  • Kung fu
  • Kendo
  • Wushu
  • Aikido
  • Capoeira
  • Hapkido
  • Fencing 
  • Archery 
  • Weightlifting
  • Powerlifting
  • Ultimate frisbee
  • Curling 
  • Billiards
  • Bowling 
  • Rock climbing
  • Figure skating 
  • Surfing 
  • Scuba-diving 
  • Golf
  • High jump
  • Long jump
  • Triple jump
  • Discus throw
  • Hammer throw
  • Kabaddi
  • Racquetball (70)

Community Service Extracurriculars 

Volunteers picking up garbage in field

There are several extracurriculars you can join through your school and other organizations to give back to your community: 

  • Habitat For Humanity
  • Red Cross Club
  • Key Club
  • National honor society
  • Big brothers and big sisters
  • Pen pals
  • Community food bank volunteering
  • Environmental clean-up crew
  • Recycling crew
  • Homeless shelter assistance 
  • Hospital volunteer programs
  • Community garden maintenance 
  • Youth mentoring
  • Reading Buddies
  • Meals on Wheels delivery
  • Wildlife rehabilitation volunteer programs
  • UNICEF Club
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
  • Girl scouts or boy scouts
  • American Cancer Society Club
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Club (NAMI)
  • Relay for Life team
  • Operation Smile Club
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities Youth Volunteers
  • YMCA Youth Volunteer Corps
  • Global Youth Service Day Projects
  • Student Conservation Association (SCA)
  • National Park Service youth programs
  • Assisting at local libraries or community centers
  • Assisting with food and clothing drives
  • Fundraising for local or non-local causes
  • Volunteering at local senior homes
  • Coaching youth sports leagues
  • Participating in fundraising walks and runs
  • Supporting programs for veterans 
  • Volunteering at daycare centers
  • Volunteering at local animal shelters 

Diversity and Culture Extracurriculars

Young woman learning sign language

Diversity and culture extracurricular activities focus on promoting and celebrating the backgrounds, cultures, and identities of different communities:

  • Spanish Club
  • French Club
  • Latin Club
  • Greek Club
  • German Club
  • Mandarin Club
  • Japanese Club
  • Korean Club
  • Italian Club
  • Russian Club
  • Persian Club
  • Arabic Club
  • American Sign Language (ASL) Club
  • Hindi Club
  • Urdu Club
  • Armenian Club
  • International Club
  • Indigenous Club
  • Turkish Club
  • Vietnamese Club
  • Filipino Club
  • Brazilian Club
  • Irish Culture Club
  • Indian culture Club
  • African Culture Club
  • Mexican culture Club
  • Arabic Culture Club
  • Black students union
  • Asian students association
  • Tamil students association
  • Punjabi students association
  • Chinese students association
  • Indian students association
  • Middle eastern association
  • European association
  • Caribbean Club
  • Jewish student union
  • Muslim student union
  • South Asian Club
  • Allyship Club 

Hobby or Interest-Related Extracurriculars

Two students reading books

While we’ve distinguished between hobbies and extracurriculars, it’s important to note these categories often overlap. You can take a hobby or interest of yours and make it into a Club at your school, as many students often do! Here are some examples:

  • Reading Club
  • Cooking Club
  • Baking Club
  • Anime Club
  • Gardening Club
  • Yoga Club
  • Pilates Club
  • Knitting Club
  • Crochet Club
  • Sewing Club
  • Embroidery Club
  • Model Rocketry Club
  • Model Railroad Club
  • Model Car Racing Club
  • Model Boat Club
  • Fashion Club
  • Birdwatching Club
  • Scrabble Club
  • Sudoku Club
  • Chess Club
  • Checkers Club
  • Board games Club
  • Video games Club
  • Film Appreciation Club
  • Scrapbooking Club
  • Makeup artistry Club
  • DIY Club
  • Astrology Club
  • Aviation Club
  • Journaling Club
  • Car enthusiasts Club
  • Magic Club
  • Pokemon Go Club
  • Entrepreneur Club
  • Equestrian Club
  • Wall Street Club
  • Woodworking Club
  • Coin collecting Club
  • Rock collecting Club
  • Stamp collecting Club
  • Music appreciation Club
  • Puzzles Club
  • Tea tasting Club 
  • Coffee Club
  • Survival Skills Training Club
  • Self-defense Club
  • DJ and Mixtape Club
  • Nutrition Club
  • Crime Club
  • Forensics Club
  • Comedy Club
  • Improv Club
  • Cosplay Club
  • Ethical hacking Club
  • Virtual Reality Club
  • Comic book Club
  • Call of Duty Club
  • Minecraft Club
  • ROBLOX Club
  • Fortnite Club
  • Battleship Club
  • Dungeons and Dragons Club
  • Public speaking Club
  • Music production Club
  • Classical Music Appreciation Club
  • Calligraphy Club
  • Juggling Club
  • Mime Club
  • Podcast Club
  • Video editing Club
  • Current events Club
  • Fantasy sports Club
  • Financial literacy Club
  • Fishing Club
  • Karaoke Club
  • Meditation Club
  • Nature Club
  • Marvel Club
  • Origami Club
  • Shakespeare Club
  • Vegan Club
  • Vegetarian Club
  • Glee Club
  • Spirit Club
  • Outdoor adventure and camping Club
  • Travel Club
  • Hiking Club
  • Cosmetology Club
  • Geocaching Club
  • Storytelling Club
  • Soap making Club
  • Candle making Club
  • Kite flying Club
  • Historical reenactment Club
  • Parkour Club
  • Puppetry Club
  • Rubik’s Cube Club
  • Sports card Club
  • Metalworking Club
  • Artificial intelligence Club
  • Paranormal investigation Club
  • Drone racing Club 

Don’t see your passion on this list? Don’t fret! You can always start your own club at your high school! Doing so can further strengthen your college applications and ensure you thoroughly enjoy your extracurricular activity. 

Student Government Extracurriculars

Group of students meeting together

Make an impact on your school and peers by joining your school government extracurricular activities:

  • Student union
  • Prom committee
  • Student Council
  • Student diversity committee
  • Student Athletic Advisory Committee
  • Prom committee
  • Student inclusion committee 

Summer Programs

Female students working together

If you're concerned about your college application lacking extracurriculars, remember that doing something meaningful during the summer before college can really make a difference. It shows your dedication to self-improvement and can strengthen your application.

So, have some free time in the summer you’d like to spend pursuing a useful extracurricular activity? Taking these programs during the summer offered by various institutions can help you develop your abilities and boost your resume!

  • Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS)
  • New York University (NYU) pre-college programs
  • Carnegie Mellon University pre-college programs
  • University of Michigan pre-college programs
  • Georgia Tech pre-college summer programs
  • Princeton University summer journalism program
  • University of Pennsylvania pre-college program
  • Harvard pre-college program
  • MIT Launch summer program
  • Columbia University summer immersion program
  • UC Berkeley pre-college scholars program
  • Duke University Summer Academy for high school students
  • Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) summer programs
  • Brown University pre-college programs
  • Georgetown University summer high school programs
  • Northwestern University Center for Talent Development summer programs
  • National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)
  • Bank of America Student Leaders program
  • NASA internships and fellowships
  • Exchange programs
  • Girls Who Code summer immersion program
  • Telluride Association summer program
  • Research Science Institute (RSI) programs
  • United States Naval Academy summer seminar
  • Oxbridge academic programs
  • Explo at Yale
  • High School Diplomats program
  • National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
  • U.S. Department of State Youth Exchange programs (e.g., YES, NSLI-Y)
  • National Student Leadership Foundation (NSLF) youth leadership conferences
  • Medlife volunteer program
  • Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
  • Roadtrip Nation summer programs
  • Abbey Road summer programs
  • Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp
  • Youth for Understanding (YFU) cultural exchange programs
  • CIEE High School Summer Abroad programs 
  • LeadAmerica leadership development programs
  • Envision Experience leadership programs
  • YouthBuild USA 

Employment

Female student working at fruit stand

It’s common for students to pick up part-time or summer jobs to keep busy and make some extra money to buy their first car, their overpriced prom dress, or save up for college. But did you know these jobs can also be considered extracurriculars? Here are the most common positions students seek:

  • Babysitter
  • Dog walker 
  • Lifeguard
  • Tutor
  • Receptionist
  • Retail Associate
  • Waiter/waitress
  • Fast food crew member
  • Camp counselor
  • Movie theater crew member
  • Pizza delivery driver
  • Barista 
  • Event Staff
  • Park attendant
  • Ice cream shop member
  • Sales associate
  • Warehouse worker
  • Dishwasher
  • Pet store associate 
  • Research Assistant
  • Intern for small and large businesses
  • Dog daycare attendant
  • Catering Assistant
  • Food delivery driver
  • Amusement park ride operator
  • Personal assistant
  • House painter
  • Moving and packing assistant
  • Lawn care attendant 
  • Grocery store associate 

So, there you have it! There are a ton of extracurriculars to choose from. Whether you're looking for content for a standout extracurricular essay, seeking personal growth opportunities, or simply wanting to pursue your passions, getting involved outside of your academic studies can be a rewarding and enriching experience. 

FAQs: Extracurricular Activities

Wondering how many extracurriculars are ideal for college applications? Not sure where to start? You can find the answers to any remaining questions about extracurricular activities in high school below!

1. How Do Colleges Feel About Extracurriculars?

Colleges highly value extracurriculars on their candidates’ applications. Admissions committees search for students who are well-rounded and can demonstrate excellence in more ways than just their academics, and having extracurriculars checks off these sought-after traits. 

Extracurricular activities also highlight students’ ability to manage their time effectively and collaborate with others, essential qualities for success in college and beyond! 

Additionally, extracurricular involvement can help students stand out among a competitive pool of applicants and showcase their unique talents, interests, and experiences. 

2. Why Are Extracurriculars Important?

Aside from getting you into your dream college, extracurriculars are important because they will enable you to develop skills that will help you throughout your academic and professional career! 

You’ll develop strong communication, time management, responsibility, leadership, and interpersonal skills that will contribute to your personal growth and character development! 

They also allow you to discover and nurture your interests and talents, helping you reach your goals, increase your confidence, and gain a sense of self-fulfillment!

3. What Extracurriculars Do Ivy Leagues Look For?

Ivy League colleges appreciate extracurriculars that demonstrate leadership, critical thinking, and commitment, so with any extracurricular you participate in, ensure you stick with it for an extended period of time and make meaningful contributions to it. 

Popular extracurriculars Ivy League students pursue that demonstrate these traits are student government, sports, and creative Clubs.

You should also consider joining academic and community service-related extracurriculars that can demonstrate your dedication to intellectual enhancement and your strong sense of social responsibility. 

4. What Counts as an Extracurricular Activity?

Essentially, any activity that is done outside of your typical curriculum and is not used towards your grades or for school credit can be considered an extracurricular activity. It should involve other people and should not be an independent pursuit. 

It should also develop your interests, work towards specific goals, and follow a schedule for meetings and events.

Final Thoughts

Now that you've had the chance to dive into over 500 extracurricular activities, you're in the prime position to pick extracurriculars that truly align with your passions and interests. Whether you're drawn to sports, arts, community service, or something entirely unique, the world is your oyster! 

Remember, these activities are not just a way to fill up your free time—they're a chance for you to explore, grow, and make unforgettable memories. So, choose wisely and get ready to embark on a thrilling journey of self-discovery, skill-building, and all-around awesomeness! 

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