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What Extracurriculars Help Get Into a Better College

College acceptance rates don't necessarily depend on the number of medals you received

Previously, we showed that we are judged by the value we provide others, not by inputs like the number of hours we spent on something. Today we will talk about actually creating and providing that value.

To help us think about that, here is a common question students ask:

“What extracurriculars look good for college?”

That’s a big leap. It’s going from participation in an extracurricular activity means you are adding value to your dream college, to them automatically factoring that in as they consider your college application.

Activities outside the classroom are to help you develop as a leader outside of books, and they become an opportunity for you to reflect on how you have grown.

Desire to help as your primary motivator vs. Expecting benefits as an ulterior motive

It’s good that students are thinking about how to stand out amongst the crowd.

An even more successful approach would be to think about how you can truly contribute something positive to society, without the expectation of receiving something in return. Typically those who have this latter mindset are the ones who often receive lots of long term benefits (plus, people enjoy performing favors for people who genuinely want to help).

The difference in your intentions pushes you to grow and become more equipped to help others. It naturally differentiates you from other applicants. Don’t try to be different just to be different and get ahead, as everyone else is already doing that.

Don’t do things just to do them; do something that actually makes an impact

Typically your accomplishments outside of the classroom are what separates you from other applicants. Objective stats like grades and test scores are a wash as most people will have strong credentials in those areas.

Note that we mention “accomplishments” instead of “activities.” Even when it comes to extracurriculars, many students will have participated in similar activities. No one cares about the actual tasks that you performed. What’s relevant are the outcomes you produced and the meaningful impact you created. To produce that, you must grow as a person, and you must have the right intentions in order to grow.


But if you go into an activity with the mindset of participating in order to boost your college chances, then that is going to prevent you from growing from your experiences. It will also prevent you from the two points above, i.e. truly wanting to add value and doing something that actually makes an impact.

Since you must continue developing and become more than what you are today in order to provide more value, that mindset is directly preventing you from adding value.

Focus on developing yourself in order to help others, and you will naturally make a positive impact on others. Then it will be apparent to college admission officers that they would be crazy not to extend you an admissions letter.

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