Q&A Late Start to Extracurricular Activities

How much do colleges care if you only began being involved in extracurriculars in junior year? I had a difficult personal situation, which was preventing me from doing much outside of school. Is it something that is frowned upon?

So there’s some good news for you, the vast majority of colleges hardly consider extracurricular activities. Most colleges, particularly large public ones, look predominantly at your transcript, then your test scores, then your essay (if required), then your extracurricular activities. Only at the most selective schools are extracurricular activities a large factor in admissions.

However, getting a late start to your extracurricular activities will certainly not bar you from being admitted to one of these colleges. Jim Bock, Dean of Admissions at Swarthmore College, notes that, “Swarthmore students have done amazing things in high school ranging from starting their own businesses and non-profits to winning national sports competitions to babysitting siblings while their parents were working.”

The most important thing is to demonstrate your passions in your application. If you haven’t had the kind of time you would have liked to pursue your passions, explain why on your application. Colleges will be very impressed that you were able to earn great grades and test scores while maintaining a 20 hr/week job to help out with family expenses.

Don’t make excuses but also don’t be afraid to explain what was going on. Be up front about what you were experiencing and colleges are likely to be impressed.

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