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Top Three Myth-Busting Facts About High School Extracurriculars

Demystifying the myths surrounding high school extracurricular activities.

Other than academics, the most important component of a high school profile would arguably be extra-curricular activities. These include pursuits that are not related to studying, such as football, piano, chess, and sports.

At first glance, curricular activities seem like a relatively straightforward concept. However, over time, an increasing number of myths have developed around them. And thus, this post seeks to show you what extra-curricular activities are really about, hopefully reducing your stress and opening you to more fruitful engagements.

Myth 1: Extracurriculars Aren’t Important In College Admissions.

This is one of the most popular myths about extracurriculars. However, it is entirely baseless. According to admissions officers from the top 50 US colleges, competitive universities tend to prioritize your extra-curricular profile over other aspects of your education, such as exam scores, grades, coursework, etc.

The main reason why counsellors view extracurriculars as such an important aspect of a high school student is because it allows them a better understanding of what your interests and qualities are. As class subjects are more or less standard across students, grades only serve as an overview of a student’s academic capabilities. On the other hand, extracurriculars are chosen by students themselves, and thus allow counsellors to gain unique insights.

Extracurriculars are also an indication of what skills you possess outside classrooms, how you can contribute to the community and what kind of activities you are active in. Always keep in mind that colleges are not merely looking for academic achievements – they are aiming to groom students into successful citizens of the future.

Myth 2: Extracurricular Impressiveness Is Completely Subjective.

It is true that college admission committees usually consist of people, and people often have their own partiality. So, it is not uncommon for both parents and students to think that the value of extracurriculars is entirely dependent on which counsellor is reviewing their application. For this instance, being the captain of the Football Club may appear impressive to some, whilst mundane to others.

This conception of extracurriculars often causes students to deliberate over which activities to participate in and which ones to skip. However, this notion isn’t entirely accurate either. Nowadays, college committees usually have uniform methods and checklists to objectively evaluate and rate their applicant’s extracurricular profile.

One possible system which a college may implement is a “ranking system”; this means that there are different tiers of extracurricular activities, with the first tier being the most outstanding and fourth tier being least impressive. Let’s look at each tier accordingly and which activities each of them entail.

Tier Four activities are usually extracurriculars in which you have merely shown some participation. For instance, consider that you are part of a school club. If your activity is rated at tier four, it means that you were not part of the leadership team and that you did not make any notable contributions to the club’s management. Common Tier Four activities include performing as part of musical band, doing voluntary work at a local pet shelter or being a member of an English Literature Club. These participations should be included as part of your application, but it is unlikely that admission counsellors will find them impressive.

Tier Three activities are slightly more impressive than Tier Four as they requires more dedication and effort. Common activities include being an athlete at school or serving as the Treasurer of a student council committee. Tier three activities represent remarkable achievement, but other students across the globe would have also achieved similar feats.

Tier Two activities are ones that make you stand out. This is because they represent more significant extracurricular accomplishments, such as being elected class president or captain of an all-state basketball team. The key point here is the demonstration of leadership which activities in Tier Three and Four do not demonstrate. Make sure you include at least 3-4 Tier Two activities in your college application to have the maximum impact on admissions officers.

Tier One activities are the most impressive activities that appeal to universities. They are usually extracurriculars which only a handful of students can achieve, such as winning the National Debate Competition or having a painting curated as part of an art exhibition. If there are multiple Tier One activities listed on your profile, counsellors will definitely be more interested in your application.

Myth 3: Music And Sports Are Strong Extracurriculars.

This is another common misconceptions that students have regarding extracurriculars. Most tend to assume that having music and sport activities on your profile will attract counsellors, however, that is most likely not the case.

Music and sports curriculars are usually ranked around Tier Three to Four, and yet they require rigorous training, dedication, time, and effort. Thus, music and sports are often demanding but return minimal payoff as they rank lowly in terms of activity strength.

Hence, a good suggestion to students who don’t love music or sports would be to consider joining other activities which can benefit them more and rank higher in tier system. For example, if you are currently part of the school orchestra playing the French Horn, it would be better if you ran for the student council instead.

Lastly, it should be noted that this is subjected to two exceptions: if you are already performing at high level or if you really enjoy and love music and sports. Our point being don’t leave music or sports if you enjoy then, but certainly don’t engage in them for the sake of college applications.

Need Help with College Applications?

The fact that extracurriculars have become such an important part of college applications points to one singular fact: with admissions becoming increasingly competitive, early mentorship is key to a successful application. We offer a highly personalized one-to-one mentorship programme to students in Grade 8-12 by working with a select cohort of 10 students per grade. Our purpose with is to select a miniscule cohort of applicants, give them an individualised experience, and help them develop a distinctive, powerful profile for college applications.

Since our intake is limited, please drop us a message on WhatsApp (‭+91 96194 58430‬) or email ( to inquire about our availibility for your child. Our engagement officer will then guide you forward with the process.

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