What kind of after-school activities look good on college transcripts?

5 teens discussing an important topic.

Applying to college is easy and stress-free…said no parent ever. Here at Parenting Monkey, we get it. Your little one has gone from tricycles to trigonometry in a heartbeat, and now you’re wondering how to set them up for college success.

We all know it can be hard enough to get a young person to think about four hours from now, let alone four years. Luckily, extracurricular activities provide immediate gratification for your teen while paving the way for a stellar college application.

Sports

It’s likely that the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about after-school activities is participation in an athletic team. After all, sports and high school go together like cake and frosting.

Incidentally, we recommend keeping a ready supply of cake around when you’re filling out college applications. It takes the edge off the stress.

In all seriousness, athletic teams are a staple of high school for a reason. They will teach your child teamwork, the thrill of winning, and even how to lose gracefully.

If your teen doesn’t make the first string on a sports team, a college acceptance board will still acknowledge any contribution they can make. Never underestimate how much people appreciate the teammate who was in charge of supplying a glass of cold water during a hard practice.

Academics

If your teen prefers academics to athletics, there is a wide array of options they can pursue during their high school years.

Tutoring

If your college-bound kid has a flair for explaining academics, encourage them to become a tutor. If they’re not comfortable instructing their fellow high school students then by all means, encourage them to call local elementary and middle schools.

Tutoring doesn’t just look good on a child’s college application. They can also take pride in watching a fellow student grow academically. Who knows, you might just have a future teacher in your family!

Foreign Country Clubs

Your teen doesn’t need to invest in golf clubs to participate in this extracurricular option. Perhaps your son or daughter has always wanted to learn about Italian cuisine or study the modern marvels of China. If so, a club that focuses on the culture of a foreign country is a great activity to pursue.

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When an admissions committee sees an applicant who is actively expanding his or her horizons, they will take notice.

Performance Arts

Participation in any artistic activity will show a college acceptance board that your teen has the dedication to work towards mastering a skill and the ability to collaborate with a team to create something bigger than themselves.

Chorus

Encourage your teen to trade in that hairbrush microphone for the real thing. Admissions boards will be impressed with the courage it takes your son or daughter to perform in front of crowds.

Band

With commitment and perseverance, your child can excel at an instrument. Whether your teen’s college application is going out to a state school or an Ivy League university, participation in a school band assures an admissions board that he or she is a hard working team player.

Theater

Nothing says school involvement and collaboration to a college admissions committee like participating in theater. Whether your child prefers to take center stage or create behind the scenes magic, this is always a stand out activity on an application.

FFA

Though the initials stand for Future Farmers of America, this organization provides opportunities to explore plenty of careers in the agricultural field beyond farming.

The FFA is known for encouraging educational growth, a solid moral code, and a strong work ethic. Participation in the FFA organization looks great on a college application for all these reasons, as well as for the unique vocational skills members acquire.

It’s also worth noting that this organization provides grants and scholarships. Since the only thing more stressful than waiting for an acceptance letter is figuring out how to pay for that amazing college education, this after-school activity is one to consider.

High School Journalism

Joining the high school newspaper provides a broad range of opportunities for your teen to shine. Perhaps they love to write or draw comics. Maybe their talents lie in proofreading or editorial design.

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Whatever their favorite aspect of the printed news is, any admissions committee will look favorably on someone dedicated to putting out quality products that represent their school community.

Activity Planning Committee

Great news for the teen who is constantly planning for the next party! Joining a student committee that plans the logistics of school dances, assemblies, and special events shows the organizational and leadership qualities that every college seeks in their future students.

Starting a New Club

Sometimes, your teen might not find an existing after-school activity that genuinely peaks their interest. Maybe options are limited because you live in a rural area, or maybe your child has a unique niche they want to explore further. In these cases, by all means, encourage your high schooler to talk to their principal about starting their own organization.

The creation of an after-school activity by your high schooler will show an admissions board that your teen has passion and the initiative to explore that passion.

Conclusion

Between academic opportunities, athletic options and everything in between your teen is sure to find or create activities that make any admissions department take notice. Once their standout high school resume gets them into a fantastic college, they will be ready to continue their favorite after-school activities at their university. Maybe they will even find they want to take these hobbies to a professional level. After all, if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life.

In the end, your teenager deserves to see that the things they love can enhance their long-term opportunities just as much as those marathon study sessions. So help your teen dive into those extracurricular activities so they can enjoy life while spicing up that college resume at the same time.

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Mom, writer and editor for ParentingMonkey.com. Jo loves researching and passing on what she has learnt, both the good and the bad. She lives with her husband, two kids and "the dog".