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College statements about extracurricular activities

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This page provides supporting evidence for the assertions on the page: extracurricular activities

Stanford University

Students often assume our primary concern is the number of activities in which one participates. In fact, an exceptional depth of experience in one or two activities may demonstrate your passion more than minimal participation in five or six clubs. — Stanford University admissions department:


Choose your activities because they really delight, intrigue and challenge you, not because you think they'll look impressive on your application. Go out of your way to find projects, activities and experiences that stimulate your creativity and leadership, that connect you with peers and adults who bring out your best, that please you so much you don't mind the work involved. Some students find room for many activities; others prefer to concentrate on just a few. Either way, the test for any extracurricular should be whether it makes you happy - whether it feels right for you. MIT admissions department

Columbia University

The key to choosing extra-curricular activities is to discover the things about which you are most passionate – it’s about quality, not quantity. As a former admissions officer, I would always rather see an applicant with two or three deeply explored activities than a list of ten superficial club memberships. Look for opportunities to do the things you love, to become a leader and to learn new things. It is also important to stay consistent. Too often, students jump around, trying different activities each year of high school. While it is OK to try new activities or join new clubs, it is important to stay consistent with your core activities – those that connect to your passions. Admissions officers will be looking for this steady involvement. Emily Wolper, former Columbia University admissions officer

Hamilton College

We’d rather see depth than a longer list. I think students think we want well-rounded kids. We do. But we really want a well-rounded class. That could be lots of people who have individual strengths. Distinction in one area is good, and better than doing a lot of little things. — Monica C. Inzer, Hamilton College Dean of Admissions


When it comes to extracurricular involvements, it doesn't really matter what the content is. Anything from doing a major DNA research project to volunteering at a school that serves low income students to excelling at fly-fishing is legitimate fodder for college application grids. No matter the activity, colleges look for quality of involvement rather than quantity of activities. In other words, it is better to be consistently involved in one, two, or three activities and/or sports over a number of years, than superficially involved in eight, 10 or 12 for shorter periods of time. Simply said, activity laundry lists do not impress. — The founder of adMISSION POSSIBLE