List of Extracurricular Activities for Students
As a high schooler, you have heard the reverberating advice from your school counselor:
“Get involved in extracurricular activities. They look good on college applications!”
But which ones? How should you spend your time? Is there an extracurricular activity that is better than another? These are all great questions, but the ultimate answer is to get involved in the things that interest you and explore your potential.
In this post, we will explore the definition of extracurricular activities and offer valuable insights on effectively utilizing your free time through our list of extracurricular activities for students!
What Are Extracurricular Activities?
First, what are extracurricular activities for high school students, exactly?
You might think, “Uh, well, duh, it’s the stuff you do after school,” but do you realize you are not limited to extracurricular activities through your school? You might think all your extracurricular activities must happen through your school, but that could not be further from the truth. You can discover an extracurricular activity through your family and community as well. For example, say your mom runs her own business — you can learn a lot from her!
You can choose from a broad range of pursuits if they develop your talents, interests, and passions. Developing a talent or interest, assuming a leadership role, or contributing to your community can make it a great extracurricular activity. Ultimately, an extracurricular should showcase a talent, especially when describing them in the Common App activities section. What if you started a YouTube channel on teen health? Great extracurricular option!
Still worried about how to develop a standout list of extracurricular activities for students? Keep reading!
When Should You Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities?
Easy answer: Right away!
When you first start high school, get involved immediately. Getting started in activities in ninth grade can help you start stacking your résumé and direct you towards leadership roles in the future.
Consider not waiting because those four years go fast, believe it or not! Also, do not forget to keep track of them throughout each school year because you might forget that you played soccer your freshman year but stopped after that year.
Where Can You Find Extracurricular Activities?
So, if extracurricular activities are not always school club activities, where else can you find them? Let’s take a look at a list of extracurricular activities you can choose from:
- School clubs: Clubs and organizations at your school can cover various interests such as science, arts, literature, and more.
- Community centers: Local community centers for activities like sports leagues, art classes, or community service projects can offer extracurricular opportunities. For example, your community center may offer a youth soccer league with leadership or coaching opportunities.
- Youth organizations: Youth organizations like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or 4-H offer diverse extracurricular experiences. Do you know how impressive it looks to put “Eagle Scout” on your college applications?
- Sports teams: You can participate in sports teams through your school or local community sports leagues. Consider looking for leadership opportunities in each.
- Volunteer programs: Do you love serving others? Look for volunteer opportunities with organizations that align with your “I have to help them!” mentality. Also, look into civic engagement programs, such as volunteering in civic activities, like participating in local government youth councils or community clean-up initiatives.
- Family Responsibilities: Maybe you help your family out in a role that goes above and beyond a normal teenager. This may impact your ability to participate in other activities and you can list your family responsibilities as an activity in the Common App.
- Jobs: Work experience counts! Spending your time with a part-time job, whether it is in the summer or year round, showcases a great work ethic.
- Church or religious organizations: Is your church asking for a Sunday school teacher? Many religious institutions offer youth groups, community service projects, youth camp activities, and more.
- Libraries: Have you seen signs around your local library looking for opportunities? Look into book clubs, writing workshops, or other literary events hosted by local libraries. You could even help out at them, serving cookies or being of service.
- Museums and art galleries: Explore programs and workshops offered by museums and art galleries in your area. They may offer a pseudo-internship program that you can participate in.
- Online platforms: Do you know of an online platform that needs help? For example, join online communities or platforms that focus on your interests, such as forums, discussion groups, or collaborative projects.
- Internships: Why not make your extracurricular activity your internship? Seek internships or apprenticeships in fields that interest you to gain hands-on experience.
- Performing arts groups: Check out drama clubs, choirs, dance troupes, or other performing arts groups in your community.
- Tech and coding clubs: Coding clubs or tech-related groups can help you with innovation and skill development. Look for other opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in your community or school.
- Language clubs: Join language exchange programs or clubs to practice and learn new languages.
- Environmental organizations: Consider participating in environmental groups or activities focused on sustainability and conservation.
- Youth leadership programs: Attend leadership workshops or join programs that enhance leadership skills.
- Music bands or orchestras: If you play a musical instrument, consider joining a local band or orchestra outside the traditional band-and-orchestra method in high school.
- Online courses and webinars: Enroll in online courses or attend webinars that align with your interests, offering valuable learning experiences. Why not learn about building a website and building and monetizing it for yourself?
As you can see, you do not have to go the traditional route for extracurricular activities at your high school.
Types of Extracurricular Activities You Can Join
Now, for a complete list of extracurricular activities you can join. Ultimately, it is an endless list because we cannot know all the activities available at your school. Your school might have a completely different list!
Academic and Intellectual Activities
If you enjoy getting your wheels turning, consider joining:
- Science club
- Math club
- Debate team
- Academic competitions (e.g., Math Olympiad, Science Bowl)
- Quiz bowl
- Model United Nations
- Robotics club
- Science fairs
- Chess club
Arts and Creative Activities
If you like doing things with your hands or moving your body, maybe you will enjoy:
- Drama club
- Art club
- Photography club
- Film club
- Creative writing club
- Music band/orchestra
- Dance team
- Pottery or ceramics club
- Graphic design club
Sports and Fitness Activities
Sports does not extend to just the sports available at the high school. Check out a few options:
- Basketball team
- Soccer team
- Track and field
- Tennis club
- Volleyball team
- Cross country
- Swim team
- Martial arts club
- Yoga club
- Intramural sports
Community Service and Volunteerism
If you feel compelled to serve, consider the following:
- National Honor Society (NHS)
- Key Club
- Habitat for Humanity
- Red Cross club
- Environmental club
- Interact club
- Food bank volunteer
- Animal shelter volunteer
- Peer tutoring
- Community clean-up projects
Leadership and Youth Organizations
Leadership is an important part of organizations. Consider getting involved in these leadership and youth organizations:
- Student government
- Junior ROTC
- Youth leadership programs
- Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
- Future Farmers of America (FFA)
- Junior Achievement
- Toastmasters (public speaking)
- Student ambassadors
- Youth advisory boards
Love tech? You can find a niche in technology and coding, including:
- Coding club
- Computer science competitions
- Technology Student Association (TSA)
- Cybersecurity club
- Web development club
- App development projects
- IT support team
- Robotics competitions
- Virtual reality (VR) development
Language and Cultural Clubs
If you are interested in developing your language skills in a foreign language:
- Language clubs (e.g., Spanish club, French club)
- International club
- Cultural exchange programs
- Travel abroad programs
- Heritage clubs
- Multicultural student organizations
- Linguistics club
- Language learning exchanges
- Global studies club
Entrepreneurship and Business
If you are destined for the business world, you can build those talents in high school or outside of high school:
- Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)
- Young entrepreneurs club
- Business plan competitions
- Investment club
- E-commerce ventures
- Start-up incubators
- Stock market club
- Economics club
- Financial literacy workshops
Health and Wellness
If you cannot stay away from the gym, you may consider diving into health and wellness activities available in your high school and in your community:
- Health club
- Peer counseling
- Nutrition club
- First aid and CPR training
- Mental health awareness club
- Fitness challenges
- Wellness workshops
- Substance abuse prevention
- Yoga and meditation club
- Healthy lifestyle campaigns
Have you heard about other activities that trip your interests?
- Model aviation club
- Astronomy club
- Car enthusiast club
- Philosophy club
- Magic club
- Outdoor adventure club
- Board game club
- Film analysis club
- Philanthropy projects
How to Choose the Right Extracurricular Activities for You
You cannot join everything — I can tell you this from experience because I tried to do just that in high school. So, the short answer is that you choose things that you are interested in and that will be apparent when completing your Common App. But how do you know the magic-bullet answer among our list of extracurricular activities?
You may not realize what you are interested in because that sometimes comes later in life. You may not know that you have a talent for computers until you get to college.
Step 1: Consider these questions.
However, it is worth considering these questions to help you choose the right extracurricular activities for yourself:
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What subjects or topics do you enjoy learning about?
- What hobbies or activities did you enjoy as a small child?
- What do you like to read or listen to in books, movies, podcasts, etc.?
- What challenges or problems do you enjoy solving?
- What activities do you find energizing?
- What are your favorite ways to spend weekends or free time?
- What kind of projects or tasks do you volunteer for willingly?
- What achievements are you most proud of?
- If money were no object, how would you spend your days?
- What causes or social issues are you passionate about?
- What compliments do you receive from others about your skills or qualities?
- What skills or activities do you find yourself teaching others?
- What activities bring you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment?
- What dreams or aspirations have you had since childhood?
Does this help you think about the right extracurricular activities for you?
Answering these questions can help you identify your interests. Do not worry about how an admission reader might perceive your activities — the key is to pursue it passionately.
Step 2: Learn how to sign up.
Once you identify the extracurricular interests you like, how do you sign up? This might be the most difficult part. When you get to high school, it is not always clear where you need to go to sign up for an activity.
Go to your school activities director and ask how you can sign up. Check with your school counselor. Ask a teacher — whoever! The bottom line is to find the right person to help you reach that next step.
Step 3: Join some activities.
As a ninth grader, it is all about dipping your toes into the water. Cast your net wide — join ten if you are interested! The goal is to sample the extracurriculars. What do you like? What do you enjoy?
As you like them, take note. What will you allocate more time to? Next year, you may consider “keeping” some and dropping others.
Step 4: Narrow extracurricular activities for next year.
Sophomores, juniors, or seniors, this is for you! If necessary, refine your focus by listing the top five activities that resonate with you. If time permits, experiment with all five to discern your strongest interests. Alternatively, narrow down your top five to three activities if time is a constraint.
Avoid spreading yourself too thin, especially beyond freshman year. Prioritize meaningful involvement over a lengthy list of activities. Choose endeavors that allow for significant personal development or contribute positively to the community.
Step 5: Consider diving deeper.
Consider taking the next step. For example, consider getting private jazz piano lessons or joining a community jazz band if you love jazz band. Consider where that evolution will take you. You might be amazed at the end of four years if you compare your growth to where you started just four years ago.
Consider Starting Your Own Extracurricular Activity
Does your school have a massive gap that does not align with your interests?
If so, approach your school to determine whether they can help you create your extracurricular activity. Hobbies count, whether it is creating websites or becoming an entrepreneur. For example, if you know how to crochet and are passionate about it, start the very first club at your school. Even if your endeavor is distinct enough not to appear on conventional lists, rest assured it will bring a fresh perspective to the college admissions committee.
The crucial factor is that your chosen activity is a channel for your passion, creativity, and leadership. Instead of underestimating the uniqueness of your experiences, seize the opportunity to discover a new passion or transform an existing love from a list of all extracurricular activities.
Ready to learn more about the college search process and how to develop a list of extracurricular activities for students? Contact us at Campus to Career Crossroads to understand every step of the journey.