Extracurricular Activities Sample Essay Outlines

How do you like to spend your time after school? Did you know that how you choose to spend this time could be one of the most important ways you shape your future?

Extracurricular activities are a critical component of your college application, and you need to impress colleges with your interests. But you might not know what good extracurricular activities look like or what you should be spending your time on.

We've got you covered here in our guide of hundreds of examples of extracurricular activities. Read on to get some inspiration for how to spend your valuable free time during high school!

 

What Is An Extracurricular Activity?

An extracurricular activity can be almost anything that isn’t required for high school credit or paid employment. These activities will become very important later, such as when you are applying to colleges, because they help you develop your talents, interests, and passions. They can also teach you practical skills like time management.

With so many options out there, all students should be able to find an extracurricular that they are interested in and can develop a passion for!

Remember that extracurricular activities do not have to be sponsored by your school,so you should also consider things that you do with your family or within your community as viable options.

Below I've listed many popular activities that you may not have thought of as extracurricular activities. Take a look at the list and see if your activities are already on the list, or if anything you hadn't considered before catches your eye.

Of course, this list isn’t complete, because you can turn almost any interest into an extracurricular. If you are actively involved in something that you don't see here - meaning you spend a significant amount of time doing an activity that is allowing you to develop a talent or interest, be a leader, or help out your community - then you should definitely consider that an extracurricular activity, as well!

What doesn't necessarily count as an extracurricular? An interest of yours that's very self-centered. You can't just get a belly button piercing and expect colleges to be wowed. It should be an activity that demonstrates a talent or contributes value to other people. There's a spectrum here, though - improving your hair quality isn't really an extracurricular. But starting a Youtube channel around beauty tips or creating a club for teen health enthusiasts definitely does.

But if you're still unsure if something counts as an extracurricular, or you need some inspiration, then read on for our complete list of extracurricular activities.

 

How Should You Use This Extracurricular Activities List?

Not sure how you should use this list of extracurriculars? Just follow the six steps outlined in this section, and you'll be on your way to choosing the best extracurricular for you!

 

 

Step 1: Brainstorm Extracurricular Ideas

What are your interests? Have you always wanted to try out something related to art, but weren’t sure if it would be worth your time, or if it would be viewed favorably by a college admissions team? Keep in mind that colleges don’t really care about what kind of activity you are doing - instead, they want to see that you are doing something that you are passionate about. So make a list of all of your interests - both things that you are already interested in and other areas that intrigue you and you'd like to learn more about.

 

Step 2: See Which Extracurriculars Fit Your Interests

Look through the list below and see if any of the activities match your interests. You may see some ways that you hadn’t thought of before to pursue an interest! Keep in mind that there can be a lot of different outlets for each interest you have. For example, if you want to play an instrument, you can take private classes, play in your school’s marching band, play in a community concert band, or work as part of the orchestra for your school’s next musical.

 

Step 3: Research Different Extracurricular Options

Research to see if these activities are available at your high school or in your community. If there is something you are very passionate about that’s not already offered, consider starting up a group of your own. But if you aren’t sure that the interest will stick and you only want to try it out, it’s probably best to find a different outlet for your curiosity.

 

 

Step 4: Join Some Activities

The next step is to start doing activities! But how many should you do? If you are a freshman, I would recommend trying out a bunch of different activities--up to ten if there are that many you have an interest in. The idea at this stage is to sample a variety of extracurriculars. Once you start to get an idea of which activities are going to really help you develop the interests you are most passionate about, you can dedicate more time to those and drop the others.

 

Step 5: Narrow Down Your Extracurriculars

If you are a sophomore, junior, or senior, you should hopefully already have an idea of the kinds of activities that you want to focus on. Make a list of the top five activities that interest you. If you have the time to try out all five, go for it. This will give you a bit of time to experiment and see what’s most of interest. If you don’t have time, try to narrow down your top five to three activities.

 

Step 6: Increase Your Impact in a Few Activities

Remember to not spread yourself too thin, especially if you are above freshman year. It’s more important to spend significant time in each activity than it is to have a long list of activities. Choose activities that will allow you to make a meaningful impact, either in your own development, or in the community.

 

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Extracurriculars List by Category

This list is organized into categories to make finding an activity that matches your interests easier. However, we recommend at least skimming all the extracurricular options below, even if you think they're categories you're not interested in. You never know what might catch your eye!

Note: not all schools will offer formal clubs in all these categories. If you see something you're interested in that your school doesn't offer, try joining a community group or even a national or online group to explore the interest further! Many of these topics are available as summer camp activities, as well.

You can also consider starting a club at your school if you are looking for a way to get involved in something you are interested in while also showing leadership and initiative.

 

Academic

These activities are based on a certain academic subject, and include both clubs (groups to discuss and practice certain subjects) and competitive teams. Academic teams have competitions that take place at all levels, from local to national.

 

Clubs

 

 

Academic Competitive Teams 

  • Academic Decathlon
  • Academic Triathlon
  • American Mathematics Competitions
  • American Regions Math League
  • Caribou Mathematics Competition
  • Chemistry Olympiad
  • Clean Tech Competition
  • Creative Communication Poetry Contest
  • EconChallenge
  • Educators Rising
  • FIRST Robotics Competition
  • High School Innovation Challenge
  • Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
  • Kids Philosophy Slam
  • Math League
  • National Academic Quiz Tournament
  • National French Contest
  • National History Bee
  • National Spelling Bee
  • Odyssey of the Mind
  • Poetry Out Loud
  • Questions Unlimited
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Science Bowl
  • Science Olympiad
  • Other Trivia and Quiz Competition Teams

 

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Art

These activities will allow you to express yourself artistically - on paper, through a lens, on stage, and through several other media. Unleash your creativity! 

  • Animation
  • Anime/Manga Club
  • Art Club
  • Art: drawing, painting
  • Blacksmithing
  • Cartooning
  • Ceramics
  • Drama Club
  • Fashion design
  • Graphic Design
  • Jewelry Making
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
  • Sewing
  • High School Theater Program
  • Community Theater Program
  • Video Game Development Club
  • Weaving
  • Woodworking

  

  

Cultural and Language

These activities may help you reconnect with your roots, or allow you to get a taste of the world's diversity without ever leaving home. There are many other cultural and language-related activities that you can participate in. Some of the most common ones are listed below. 

  • African American Student Alliances/Clubs
  • American Sign Language Club
  • Chinese Club
  • French Club
  • German Club
  • International Food Club
  • Latin Club
  • Pacific Islanders Club
  • Russian Club
  • South Asian Student Society
  • Spanish Club
  • Student Diplomacy Corps

 

 

Community

These activities will allow you to get involved in your community.

 

 

Government

Interested in making a difference in your school, community, or on a larger scale, through policy? Try a government-related activity to see if this could be a career interest for you!  

 

  

Leadership

These activities could be a fit if you're a natural leader, skilled at motivating, directing, and inspiring others.

 

Media

If you love writing and communicating, consider getting involved in a media activity to help bring news and information to your school or community. 

  • School or local magazine/journal
  • School or local newspaper
  • School or local radio station
  • School or local television channel
  • School or local web site
  • Work on a movie
  • Yearbook Committee

 

 

 

Military

If you are interested in learning about discipline, teamwork, and leadership, then you may be interested in a military-based extracurricular activity.

  • Civil Air Patrol
  • Junior ROTC

 

 

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Music

If you want to try playing an instrument or singing, there are many opportunities to try music-related activities. These are usually available both in your school community and in your wider community. 

  • Any musical interest club
  • School Chorus/Choir
  • Community Chorus/Choir
  • Church Chorus/Choir
  • Chamber Music Group
  • Concert Band
  • Ensembles
  • Singing Lessons
  • Marching Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Orchestra
  • Solo music
  • Your own band
  • Tri-M Music Honor Society

 

 

Performance Art

Love to ham it up? You'll find there are many outlets both in your school and in your community to get on a stage and make an audience laugh and cry.

  • Comedy Club
  • Choreography
  • Classic Film Club
  • Dance
  • Film Production Club
  • International Thespian Society
  • Miming
  • Puppetry
  • Slam Poetry Club
  • High School Theater Group
  • Community Theater Group

 

 

Religious

You can usually find these groups in your community.

 

Roleplaying/Fantasy

Did you know your love of fantasy can also be an extracurricular activity? Participating in one of these groups can show a dedication to many different creative skills. 

 

  

Social Activism

These groups may have chapters in your school or in your community. If there's a cause you're passionate about, seek out the local group that supports it.

 

 

Special Interest

You will often find these groups in your school or supported by the community. If you have a special interest in something that you can't find a local group for, consider creating one or join a national group. You can communicate with other people who have the same interest online, and attend meet-ups throughout the year.

  • Boy Scouts
  • Chess Club
  • Equestrian Club
  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Girl Scouts
  • Horticulture Club
  • Model Railroads
  • Quilt Making

 

 

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Speech and Political Interest

If you have a knack for recognizing faulty logic and destroying opponents' arguments, try one of these clubs. Many schools will sponsor these groups and some of them are competitive on local and national levels.

 

  

Sports and Recreation

You probably already know about the sports teams at your schools, but there are also many opportunities to participate outside of those. Try doing extramural sports, join a club league in your community, or consider coaching a youth team.

  • Baseball and softball
  • Basketball
  • Bodybuilding
  • Cheerleading
  • Climbing Club
  • Cycling
  • Dance Team
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Hiking Club
  • Hockey
  • Intramural Sports
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Ping Pong Club
  • Quidditch Clubs
  • Skate Board Club
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Ultimate Frisbee Club
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Yoga Club

 

 

Technology

A love of technology can take you far. If you have strong knowledge in a particular area, try sharing with the online community. The bonus of these activities is that anyone with an internet connection can do them - no need for a school-sponsored club!

  • Blogging
  • Personal Web Site
  • Social Media
  • YouTube Channel

 

 

Volunteer

There are a lot of ways to make a difference in your local community. Look for volunteer groups in your school, your church, or elsewhere in your neighborhood. There are many websites, such as Volunteer Match, that can help you find a local community service project that is of interest to you. 

 

 

Final Word

If none of the above activities are for you, you're still in luck. Why? You can always create your own extracurricular activity!

Did you know that almost any hobby can be turned into an extracurricular activity?

Starting a business or a website, volunteering, or any unusual hobby can be turned into something that you can write about for college. And if it’s unique enough to not be on this list, you can be sure that it will be something new for the college admissions committee, as well!

What matters most is that it’s an outlet for your passion, creativity, and leadership.

So instead of thinking you don’t do anything interesting, take the opportunity to find a new passion, or to turn something you already love into an activity you can share with the world.

If you have any questions or want to see something added to this list, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

What's Next?

Now that you know what extracurriculars look like, read about how to write about extracurriculars on your college application.

Did you know that you can use community service work to help pay for college? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to win community service scholarships.

Want your extracurriculars to really stand out? Check out our guide of three amazing extracurricular examples that are sure to impress colleges.

 

Struggling to write about extracurriculars on your college application? Check out our in-depth guide to crafting a compelling narrative about your extracurriculars. Read it for free now:

 

Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay


Writing a scholarship essay can be very difficult – especially if you want to do it well. Your essay will need to wow the reader, and speak directly to the goals of that organization, as well as the objectives of that award. If done properly, you will very rarely be able to submit the same application to multiple awards – it is not a one-size-fits-all; most essays will need to be tweaked or completely altered to show the reader that you are deserving of the award above and beyond any of the other participant who also applied.

Read on to find eight steps to help you write a better scholarship essay so that you can get the money you need to fund your international education.

Step 1: Read the Essay Prompt Thoroughly

Many schools and other organizations that give out scholarships will give you a "prompt" or a question which the essay is supposed to address. Read the question or prompt carefully and try to "read between the lines." For example, the prompt you are to answer might be, "Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why?" Ask yourself, "Are they really interested in my literary preferences or is there something more to this question?" More than likely, they want to get a better idea of who you are—not only what types of books you like but also what motivates you and what sorts of stories or topics interest you. They may also be interested in getting a sense for how promising a student you are based on the type of book you choose and what you have to say about it.

Tip: Always keep in mind that any scholarship essay question, no matter the topic, should demonstrate your interests, your background, and most importantly, highlight the experiences you've had that fit with the goals and mission of the funding organization.

Instead of being given a prompt, you might be asked to write an essay on the topic of your choosing. Although challenging, this is also an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity. Finally, if anything about the directions aren't clear, don't be afraid to contact someone at the funding organization and ask for clarification.

Step 2: Make a List of Important Points and Keywords to Include

Looking for sample essays?
Check out our Sample Essay section where you can see scholarship essays, admissions essays, and more!

Regardless of the essay prompt, you will want to make sure to include the important and relevant information about your experiences and background that makes you an ideal candidate for the scholarship award. To complete this step, it can be helpful to first research the organization to which you're applying and try to find their mission statement on their website. Circle a few key words from the mission statement and make sure to include those buzzwords in your essay.

Scholarship committees are not only looking for good students, they are often looking for a person that fits their organizational goals. You should gather your other application materials such as transcripts and resumes so you can review your qualifications as well as make note of what is missing in these materials that needs to be included in the essay.

For example, if you're applying for a general academic scholarship, you might want to talk about a specific class you took that really piqued your interest or inspired your current academic and career goals. The committee will see the list of the classes that you took on your transcript but they won't know how a particular class inspired you unless you tell them. The essay is the best place to do this. Your list of important points to make might also include:

  • Any academic awards or other honors you've won.
  • Any AP or college-level courses you took in high school.
  • Any outside courses, internships, or other academic experiences that won't necessarily appear on your transcript.
  • Why your experience and the mission of the funding organization match.
  • What you plan to major in during college and how you think that major will be useful to your future career goals.
  • Any special training or knowledge you have, or a project you completed in school or as an extracurricular activity.
  • An example of how you overcame a challenge.
  • Your financial circumstances that makes it necessary for you to finance your studies through scholarship money.

The challenge now is to integrate those points that you want the committee to know with an essay that answers the prompt. You can see our example scholarship essays to get a better idea of how to do this.

Step 3: Write an Outline or a Rough Draft

Not everyone likes to make an outline before they begin writing, but in this case it can be very helpful. You can start with your list of important points to begin writing the outline. For many, telling a story is the easiest and most effective way to write a scholarship essay. You can tell the story of how you found your favorite book, and how it has changed and inspired you. Start with large headings in your outline that describes the basic storyline. For example:

  1. High school composition teacher recommended book
  2. Read it over one weekend
  3. Made me see the world around me differently
  4. Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice

Now you can start filling in the subheadings with points from your previous list:

  1. High school composition teacher recommended book
    1. Favorite class in high school
    2. Class opened my eyes to new ways of thinking
    3. Teacher noticed my enthusiasm—recommended outside reading
  2. Read it over one weekend
    1. Was the first time I was so drawn in by a book, I read it very quickly
    2. I realized my academic potential beyond getting good grades
  3. Made me see the world around me differently
    1. Started to look for jobs in social justice
    2. Interned for a summer at a law firm doing pro bono work for the poor
    3. This was a big challenge because I realized you can't help everyone and resources are limited
    4. Overcame this challenge by knowing that small change can be big, and working hard in a field you are passionate about will inspire you everyday
  4. Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
    1. The book is a constant source of inspiration and will keep me motivated as I pursue my career
    2. The book will always remind me how people with limited financial resources can still make a huge difference in others' lives

Step 4: Write a Strong Statement that Summarizes Your Points

You will want to include one strong thesis statement that summarizes all the major points you will make in your essay. It is often easy to start writing with this simple statement. Your essay doesn't have to begin or end with the thesis statement, but it should appear somewhere in order to tie all the individual sections together.

For example, your thesis statement might be, "You will find that various experiences from both my academic career and my personal life align very well with your organization's mission: shaping community leaders who are working towards a more just and sustainable world." Starting with this sentence can help you organize your thoughts and main points, and provide you with a direction for your essay. When you've finished your essay, be sure to reflect back on your thesis statement and ask yourself, "Does this essay further explain and support my thesis statement?"

Step 5: Fill in the Missing Parts

Now that you have a thesis statement, an outline, and a list of important points to include, you can begin to fill in the missing parts of your story. The first sentence is particularly important: it should capture the attention of the reader, and motivate him or her to continue reading. We recommend starting your story by painting a vivid picture of an experience about which you will be talking in the essay.

For example: "It is 6 am on a hot day in July, I've already showered and I'm eating breakfast. My classmates are all sleeping in and the sun has yet to awaken, but I'm ready to seize the day, as I couldn't imagine spending my summer any other way but interning at a local law firm that specializes in representing the poor. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and nothing has made me happier. But I wouldn't be here if it weren't for one particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class."

Step 6: Rewrite, Revise, Rewrite

A good writer rewrites and revises his or her work many, many times. After getting a first draft on paper, take a day or two away from the essay and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Make appropriate edits for content, and pay attention to proper spelling and grammar. If need be, you might want to write an entirely new draft and then integrate the best of both into a final draft. Writing a new draft can inspire you to think of new ideas or a better way to tell your story. Some other tips to think about as you rewrite and revise:

  • Make sure it sounds like your voice. You want the scholarship committee to feel like they are getting to know you. If you don't sound authentic, the committee will know. It is better to be yourself than to say what you think the committee wants to hear.
  • Strike a balance between modesty and arrogance. You should be proud of your accomplishments, but you don't want to sound arrogant. Don't exaggerate a story; instead be clear about what you did and the impact it had and let that speak for itself.
  • Check to make sure you are answering the prompt and fulfilling all other requirements of the essay as directed by the committee, such as font preference and word count limits.
  • Don't just list your accomplishments; describe them in detail and also tell the reader how you felt during these experiences.
  • A scholarship essay is not a dissertation. You don't need to impress the committee with big words, especially if you're not completely clear if you're using them correctly. Simplicity and clarity should be the goals.
  • Make sure your essay will be read from the beginning to the end. Committee members won't dedicate much time to reading the essay, so you need to make sure they are given motivation to read the entire thing. If you are telling a story, don't reveal the end of the story until the end.
  • Check to make sure the buzzwords from the mission statement appear. It is easy to forget the scholarship committee's goals as you write. Return to their mission statement and look for spots to place keywords from the statement. Be sure, however, that you're not copying the mission statement word-for-word.

Step 7: Have someone else read your essay

Ideally, you could give your essay to a teacher or college admissions counselor who is familiar with scholarship essays and the college admission process. If such a person is not available, virtually anyone with good reading and writing skills can help make your essay better. When your editor is done reading and you've looked over his or her notes, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Was the story interesting and did it hold your attention?
  • Were there any parts that were confusing?
  • Did you find any spelling or grammar errors?
  • Does the essay sound like my voice?
  • Does the essay respond appropriately to the prompt?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently or something you thought was missing?

After having an editor (or two or three) look over your draft, it is time again to revise and rewrite.

Step 8: Refine the Final Draft

Once you feel satisfied with the draft, review it one more time and pay particular attention to structure, spelling, grammar, and whether you fulfilled all the required points dictated by the committee. If you are over the required word count, you will need to make edits so that you are within the limit. If you are significantly under the word count, consider adding a supporting paragraph.

Essay Writing Center

Related Content:

Misconception: No one actually reads your scholarship essay! – Wrong!

Fact: Your essay is the key to your scholarship application. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to the selection committee that you are a well-rounded individual, that you are more than your GPA, that you are a strong writer, and it gives you a chance to talk about your experiences and qualifications in greater detail than what appears on your resume or transcripts.

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