8 Ways to Find the Extracurricular Activities Right for You


Whether you’re in high school or college, extracurricular activities are a way to enrich your educational experience, make life-long friends, and impress admissions officers or future employers. But there are often so many from which to choose, how can you decide? Here are some ideas:

1.    Find out what’s out there.

It’s a simple tip, but an important one. Do you even know what extracurricular activities your school offers? Find out if there will be an activities fair, a bulletin board shared by various organizations for making announcements, or even just a list of groups sponsored by the school.

2.    Explore activities that you enjoy and that make the most of your talents.

This may also seem a little obvious, but there are always people who overlook the fact that joining a group should be fun first and foremost; and it’s only human to enjoy things we’re good at. On the other hand, don’t worry about joining a group that may not be up to your usual level. Maybe you’re a very talented artist and you don’t think your school’s art club has much to offer. You’ll never know unless you give it a try, and if it isn’t meeting your expectations, perhaps you can be the one to help take it to the next level.

3.    Keep an open mind and try activities that challenge you in different ways.

Once you begin your career, you aren’t as likely to have the opportunity to become involved with as many different things as your high school and college years offer. So explore. Try something you’ve never thought about doing before. For example, maybe you’ve always excelled in athletics—in your offseason, think about trying out for the school play. You never know what you’ll discover about yourself unless you push your boundaries.

4.    Go to the first meeting even if you don’t think you’ll end up joining.

Most groups are aware of the fact that people try things out at the beginning of the year and may not end up joining permanently. There’s no harm in going to a meeting to see what it’s all about. If you’re unsure, go to one or two more. You won’t have to commit right away.

5.    Look for activities where you have a chance to lead.

Admissions officers and future employers are always impressed when you bring leadership experience to the table. Find a group that feels comfortable to you. If you join a group early, you can position yourself for leadership roles later.  If you see a group you’re interested in that isn’t well organized at the moment, maybe they could use your leadership even sooner.

6.    Join at least one or two organizations that complement your academic or career interests.

Particularly in college, there are groups centered on specific disciplines. For example, a school may have a fraternity especially for engineering majors or an association of future teachers. Employers love to see that your interest in your field extends beyond the classroom and that you are part of a community of future colleagues.

7.    If there isn’t an organization centered on something you love, consider starting one!

Most groups began at one point with a handful of students interested in the same thing. You may find that you’re not the only one, and you can feel very proud of having started something successful—it could even be great experience for a future career as an entrepreneur. Many schools have funds available to help you get started, and you can seek guidance from a faculty member who can help you get organized.

8.    Don’t overload yourself.

While high achievers should definitely belong to a few groups, you can stretch yourself too thin. Remember the main goal of school is to succeed academically and prepare for your future; consider your schedule carefully and ask yourself if you have time to join a new group without your studies suffering or adding too much stress in your life.