HomeArticlesExtracurriculars and Community Service That Count

Dear Estelle. Which is more important for an aspiring college applicant, a well-rounded person who is involved with many extracurriculars and a lot of community service or a student who excels in just one or two activities, which require a full-time commitment after school and on weekends? Figure skating is my passion consuming hours each week at the rink, early in the morning and after school. I don’t have visions of becoming an Olympic star, but I do compete at the state level and participate in several ice shows a year. My concern is that colleges will find me too one-sided.

Jill, sophomore, Littleton High School.

At most national meetings I attend the consensus is that commitment to one or two activities is better than a smattering of individual periodic events. The ideal college applicant is one who is committed to and excels at one activity such as writing for the year book (and possibly becoming its editor); being involved with theatre; winning awards for musical talent and playing at your church or for senior citizens; playing basketball throughout high school, attending off-season camps and working with middle school children who want to learn basketball; being a key participant on a debate team; Excelling in math and tutoring younger children on an ongoing basis; playing one or two seasonal sports, JV or Varsity, such as soccer and then participating with Special Olympics kids during their season because it’s your love of the sport and the way to give back to those who benefit from your talent and comraderie.

How important is it to show community service on your college application? It depends. If you have been fortunate enough to take a trip to Costa Rica to work with impoverished children and then return home with life as status quo, does that count? Or do you return home with a passion to work with high risk kids in your school district on an ongoing basis? It’s impossible for a student to maintain quality academics and be involved with more than one or two time-consuming activities. My advice is to identify your passion and run with it.

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