ACTIVITIES Colleges DON’T Care About – I Learned This The Hard Way…

ACTIVITIES Colleges DON’T Care About – I Learned This The Hard Way…

August 22, 2019 95 By Stanley Isaacs


I’m going to tell you a story. When I was a freshman year in high school,
I signed up for 8 clubs. I was on the track team. I did mock trial. Theater. A Capella. I volunteered at a soup kitchen. I was studying two languages at once. To your average person, these are all activities
that colleges like to see. But don’t listen to your average person. Signing up for those eight clubs was the worst
mistake of my LIFE. I was continually stressed out about making
every meeting and keeping up grades at the same, and I basically wasted two years of
my life with activities that I thought colleges cared about. In the spring of my sophomore year, I dropped
most of my activities. I felt like a failure, I couldn’t handle the
pressure any more. I didn’t know this at the time, but it was
QUITTING those extra activities that gave me the time and motivation to do the things
I really cared about. And it was QUITTING that got me accepted to
several Ivy League schools, including my dream school, Princeton! I’m Greg Smith and today I am going to tell
YOU which activities colleges don’t care about. I’m going to tell you exactly why colleges
don’t care about these activities, even though many people think that they do. Now, it’s never easy to ‘quit’ an activity
in high school. Maybe you feel like you’re “letting down
the team,” or you’re just giving up. Maybe quitting an activity is hard. But you know what else is hard? Being an Ivy League student. So if you want to change your admissions decision,
you’re also going to have to change the activities that you do, if they’re on this list. Luckily for you, and for me, it’s NOT hard
to click that ‘Like’ button and hit subscribe for weekly college admissions videos. Just do that right now before we jump into
this video. The number one activity that colleges don’t
care about is sports. Everyone has played a sport, and it might
feel unnatural for you to quit a sport and not be doing one at all. But hear me out– I’m going to convince
you that in most cases, doing a sport is utterly useless for your college applications. First, sports take up a lot of time when compared
to other activities. You practice for several hours a day after
school, and you often have these games that last into the evenings or if you do track
or something like that, meets that can go all weekend. To give you a real-life example, when I ran
track in high school, I was doing about 8 hours a week of practice, and I had a 5-hour
meet every other week. Because I ran for two 3-month seasons, that
means I spent approximately 270 hours PER YEAR. Aside from the crazy time commitment, when
you play a sport, you are not demonstrating anything unique about yourself to colleges. Besides getting really good at the sport,
there’s nothing you can really do to stand out, whereas there are lots of other clubs
and activities you can pursue to show colleges qualities that they really do care about such
as leadership, creativity, innovation, and proactiveness. Now, of course, if you do get really good,
and I mean really really good, you should absolutely stick with your sport. Recruiters will go the extra mile to get you
accepted into the college, even if your GPA and extracurricular activities aren’t up
to par. Another case where you should stick to a sport
is if you are on track to become the team’s captain. If you do this, then in your essays, you can
talk about how being the team’s captain improved your leadership ability; leadership
is a quality highly desired in college applications. Generally speaking though, colleges don’t
care that you play JV basketball, and neither should you. If you’re passionate about your sport but
not really good at it, then to become a sports writer for your school newspaper, maybe volunteer
to coach little kids in the sport that you’re interested in. Or start a blog or Youtube channel about the
sport. Any of these will show creativity, passion,
and innovative, which are all qualities that colleges DO care about. If you asked 100 people what came to mind
when they thought of college activities, the number one answer would undoubtedly be “volunteer
work.” Volunteer work has been touted as an activity
that colleges like to see, and suddenly high school students have a vested interest in
going to homeless shelters, handing out sandwiches, other types of traditional community service. Now, personally, I don’t think that you
should be doing volunteer work solely to get into your dream college in the first place. Take it from me; I did one of these traditional
volunteer opportunities for a year when I was a freshman because I thought it would
look good for college, and I felt super unfulfilled by the work I was doing. But, because I’m super interested in music
and performance, I started a street performing club senior year with some of my closest friends,
we went out the streets, performed, and asked for donations to this amazing music charity
in my local city. We ended up raising thousands of dollars through
that club, and that was volunteer work that Princeton was really interested in seeing. The bottom line is, If you’re going to do
some sort of charitable work and include it on your college application, make sure it
has something to do with what you like to do and you’re not just doing it for the sake
of racking up community service hours. For example, if you’re super interested
in language, you could tutor English to low-income ESL students. If you are really into biology, how about
organizing a fundraiser for a disease that really fascinates you? All I’m trying to say is, colleges really
care that all of your activities have a theme in common and that you’re not just doing
volunteer work for college. If you’re struggling with brainstorming
different ways that your passion can be related to some sort of service, why don’t you just
leave a comment below explaining your situation and I will try to get back to you as best
I can. But, if you really want to know which activities
will work best for you specifically, I highly recommend that you check out our sponsor,
Crimson Education. Crimson provides top-of-the-line college consulting,
including expert advice on extracurricular activities tailored to your specific situation. They also will put together a whole team of
admissions specialists to help you go over, revise, and polish your application. It’s also probably worth noting that 87%
of Crimson students get into one of their top three choice colleges! If you use the link in the description to
sign up with Crimson, they will give you a FREE consultation about your application and
they will give you a recommendation as to how they can best help you. Definitely check it out if you’re interested! Let’s get back into activities that colleges
don’t care about. I want to let you in on a little secret: just
because you’re part of a club, doesn’t mean that you should put it on your college
application. Some high school clubs are a lot of fun to
be a part of, and I’m definitely not telling you to quit all your clubs simply because
you won’t be putting them on your college application, but far too often I see students
worrying about the number of clubs they’re a part of because they think that colleges
care about that! If this is you, don’t worry, I did the exact
same thing. The case with most clubs is, anybody can sign
up and show up. It’s really not that hard and it doesn’t
make you stand out. For example, when I was a senior in high school,
I showed up to the French club, Astronomy club, and poker club, maybe about one third
of the time each, and they all considered me a member simply because I showed up some
of the time! That said, if you put in the hard work and
dedication required, you can impress colleges with your participation in a club. The first thing colleges look at when they
see a club that you’re a part of is your position in the club. If you are an officer of the club, or better
yet, a FOUNDER you are showing colleges that your friends and peers see you as a natural
leader, and, in the latter case, proactive about getting others excited about your passion
as well. For example, I only founded my street performing
club once I knew that my passion was music and performance, and I brought a lot of my
friends together who had similar passions. If you’re not an officer of the clubs that
you’re currently in, don’t worry. What matters more to colleges than any sort
of title you hold in a club is the CONTRIBUTIONS you made to the club while you were a part
of it. Think about it: what good is a leader if they
don’t make changes? If you’re a president of the club or even
just a member, what’s really going to make colleges interested in you is the creative,
out-of-the-box steps that you take to improve the club. Let me give you a real-life example. In senior year of high school, I was one of
the co-presidents of the school’s all-male a cappella group. Because the group was classified as a club,
we weren’t really allowed to hold auditions or reject people from the group. This meant that during the first few weeks
of rehearsal, we were basically spending all of our time helping just two people who really
couldn’t get the pitches. Everyone else felt left out and felt bored
because they knew what they were doing but we weren’t rehearsing with them. To fix this problem, my co-president and I
started holding more sectional rehearsals, that basically means we held rehearsals for
just one voice part at a time. The results were fantastic: we were no longer
wasting the time of the people that were doing great, and the people who weren’t doing so
well either improved or decided that singing was not for them. If you’re currently part of a club, think
about whether it’s a club you can contribute to in some unique way. If it is, great. Then stay in the club and start working towards
that. The last type of activity that colleges don’t
like to see on your application is just RANDOM activities that fill the bottom few slots
of the activities section. I don’t blame you for feeling like you should
fill in all 10 activities but you really shouldn’t. When you add things like your summer job at
a fast food chain or the day of volunteer service that your school made you do, you’re
really taking away from those activities at the top of your list that the college admissions
officers should be focusing on. Would you rather the admissions officer spend
all their time focusing on your strong suits, or would you rather have them split up their
time evenly so they can review your extensive babysitting experience in slot 10? I hope you guys liked this video. If you’re still having trouble figuring
out which activities to QUIT, please check out THIS video about finding your passions
and finding ways to connect your activities and find a common thread that will leave college
admissions officers loving you. Hit that like button for a new video next
week. And thank you for subscribing, how nice of
you! See you later.