College admission officers don’t just want to know if you’re smart enough for their school. They want to know if you can afford to pay for their school. Oh, and if you’re a well-rounded individual, not just a good test taker. Hence why it’s important to get involved in as many extracurricular activities you can fit in between waking up in the morning and going to sleep only once summer vacation starts. But alas, not every activity will impress a college, so be wise to avoid the following…
Hometown Justice League
Colleges want to hear that you play a constant role in your community so they’ll know you’ll maintain a socially active presence on campus. But usually they mean through volunteering, community theater, or local event organizing. They don’t want to know that you and your friends have taken LARPing way too far and are now spending your free time running around in tights or wetsuits getting beat up by kids who don’t have a cowl blocking their vision. At best the college will see you as an insurance liability. At worst they will think it’s only a matter of time before you completely lose your mind and assume the team mascot is your arch nemesis.
High School Political Fringe Party
Involvement in your school’s student council is the perfect way to show you have experience with leadership and governance. But it doesn’t help if you’re actually involved in some lunatic fringe party that spends all of its time putting up obscene campaign posters and announcing the candidacy of a sock puppet, all in the attempt to undermine a student government that doesn’t even have the political clout to restock the high school vending machines with Twix bars. After all, that will only cause colleges to believe you’ll spend four years holding up signs and screaming in front of the administration building demanding they remove all the "U’s" from the British spellings for "colour" and "flavour" or that the school officially recognize "National Puffed Rice Day," complete with time off but not counting mandatory parade attendance.
Duplo Brick Sculptures
Art is a great way to illustrate to colleges that you are indeed a well-rounded person. (Unless, of course, you ARE an artist, in which case at least take a photo of a Tesla coil, hippy.) And almost any kind of art will do, including painting, writing, theater, music, dance, photography, and even creative yelling if you can get at least two people to say, "Yeah, that…that was something." But it has to be an artistic pursuit that shows you were trying to say something or harness your imagination in a brave new way. It can’t be something that was done clearly for fun, like customizing karts for Sackboy. Nor can it be simply killing an afternoon just building things with Legos. Especially if it’s the oversized pre-school Duplo bricks, no matter how many times you wrote in if your college essay that one of your defining characteristics is “a fear of choking hazards.”
Running Nowhere in Particular
Enrollment in sports shows you know how to work with others, you’re self-motivated, and if you’re good enough you can be a potential alumni donation meal ticket for the school. But it helps that the sport is a team sport. (And that the team was not trying to win the Quidditch Cup courtesy of your mom’s kitchen broom and unsupervised play time in the park.) And while being on the track team is a good way to prove you’re a confident self-starter, saying that every afternoon you just bolt right out the school doors and keep running with wildly flailing arms until you’re either far away from everybody or at least have outpaced your inner demons won’t be welcomed with "Here’s your scholarship" so much as "Our psychiatric unit is not equipped to handle such demanding cases."
After-School Clubs with Your Little Brothers and/or Little Sisters as Members
Joining an after-school club shows you have interests outside of just getting good grades for transcripts. Whether it be chess club, language club, debate club, or even that mathletes club that actually tried to combine trigonometry with boxing only for everyone to no longer be able to do simple addition after a few rounds, it’s all about showing you have a wide-range of knowledge and passions. But make sure the club is recognized by the school or some organization and doesn’t involve climbing a tree to reach it or a flag you made from construction paper and a chopstick and taped carefully to the top of a sofa cushion fort.
Church Activities Involving a Religion You Just Created
No matter how much you define your new religion’s belief system, no matter how comprehensive you document your new religion’s history, no matter how well you detail your new religion’s Facebook fan page, the moment the admission officer reads “And so the mystical melon…” is the moment you’ll find your parents are going to have to home school you for college.