What to Do if You Have No Extracurricular Activities

While extracurricular activities are certainly an important part of any high school student’s resume when applying to college, you may find yourself at the start of senior year with very little show for your time spent outside of class. This can happen for a variety of reasons––other commitments, limited family resources, or simple uncertainty regarding interests and passions.

So what should you do if you find yourself with only a limited number of extracurricular activities to list on your resume? Don’t fret, there are ways to enhance other aspects of your application in order to make yourself stand out as a compelling and irresistible candidate for admission.

1. Declare Your Passions

What fascinates you? What are you planning to study? What is your ideal career? In a perfect world you would have spent the past few summers working directly hands-on in a field related to these interests. But things happen. Perhaps other activities took precedence but perhaps your family could not provide such opportunities. What’s in the past is in the past now we need to focus on looking forward.

Instead of wallowing in your lack of experience, acknowledge it and move on. From now on focus on what your passions are and what you have been able to do within your limited means. For example if you’re fascinated by writing, what kind of writing have you done? Who have you read? What do you think about the state of world literature today? Show some sort of engagement with the larger ecosystem that houses your interests.  Perhaps even discuss the collection of personal journal entries or poems or short stories that you’ve managed to complete in your own spare time.

2. How Have You Pursued this Passion on Your Own?

If you’re the type of resourceful, independent thinker that colleges appreciate, then chances are that you’ve been more productive than you realize. It’s likely that you’ve managed to find outlets for your interests in spite of obstacles that prevented you from pursuing them more directly. For example if you enjoy working with children, then perhaps you volunteered at your school’s daycare center. Or perhaps you’ve explored a passion for animals by way of pet sitting and conducting independent research projects.

Yes, in an ideal world you would have spent your summers conducting lab experiments or assisting famous professors, but the point is that you’ve still managed to make do with the resources you had access to.  How you’re able to craft your narrative is ultimately what will set you apart from other candidates.

Additionally, with the ubiquity of the Internet, it is more possible than ever to connect with others who share similar passions and collaborate on ideas and projects. I’ve worked with students in the past who, despite lacking hands on experience and extensive resources, were still able to enhance their applications by emphasizing their collaborations with others online.

3. How Do You Plan to Pursue This Passion at Your Ideal School?

Lastly, talk about the ways in which you plan to take advantage of opportunities at your ideal school. This is where the crux of your application will emerge. It’s essential that you’re able to definitively, and passionately articulate why going to your favorite school is the clear next step for your career.  In lieu of the experience that extracurricular activities provide, having a sharp and pointed vision of the future will also take you very far.

Don’t let a lack of extracurricular activities get you down. Admission to your ideal school is certainly still very possible as long as you’re able to passionately discuss why your passions are important to you and what you have done to pursue them.

Admissions Mentoring provides personalized one-on-one application mentoring services for students applying to colleges and other elite institutions. I work with students and families around the world to craft competitive applications. Click here to schedule a consultation.