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.Â 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?
AnÂ extracurricular activityÂ can be almost anything that isnâ€™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 activitiesÂ do not have to be sponsored by your school,Â 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 isnâ€™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?Â An interest of yours that’s very self-centered. You can’t justÂ get aÂ belly button piercingÂ 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 -Â improving your hair qualityÂ 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 werenâ€™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 donâ€™t really care aboutÂ whatÂ kind of activity you are doing – instead, they want to see thatÂ youÂ are doing something that you are passionate about.Â 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.Â You may see some ways that you hadnâ€™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 schoolâ€™s marching band, play in a community concert band, or work as part of the orchestra for your schoolâ€™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.Â If there is something you are very passionate about thatâ€™s not already offered, consider starting up a group of your own. But if you arenâ€™t sure that the interest will stick and you only want to try it out, itâ€™s probably best to find a different outlet for your curiosity.
Step 4: Join Some Activities
The next step is toÂ start doing activities!Â 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 toÂ sample a variety of extracurriculars.Â 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.Â Make a list of the top five activities that interest you.Â 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 whatâ€™s most of interest. If you donâ€™t have time, try to narrow down your top five toÂ three activities.
Step 6: Increase Your Impact in a Few Activities
Remember to not spread yourself too thin,Â especially if you are above freshman year. Itâ€™s more important to spend significant time in each activity than it is to have a long list of activities.Â Choose activities that will allow you to make a meaningful impact, either in your own development, or in the community.
Extracurriculars List by Category
This list is organized into categories to make finding an activity that matches your interests easier.Â However, we recommend at least skimming all the extracurricular options below,Â 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 considerÂ starting a club at your schoolÂ if you are looking for a way to get involved in something you are interested in while also showing leadership and initiative.
These activitiesÂ are based on a certain academic subject, and include both clubs (groups to discuss and practice certain subjects) and competitive teams. AcademicÂ teams have competitions that take place at all levels, from local to national.
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
- 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
These activities will allow you to express yourself artistically – on paper, through a lens, on stage, and through several other media. Unleash your creativity!
- Anime/Manga Club
- Art Club
- Art: drawing, painting
- Drama Club
- Fashion design
- Graphic Design
- Jewelry Making
- High School Theater Program
- Community Theater Program
- Video Game Development Club
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
These activities will allow you to get involved in your community.
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!
These activities could be a fit if you’re a natural leader, skilled at motivating, directing, and inspiring others.
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
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
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
- Singing Lessons
- Marching Band
- Jazz Band
- Solo music
- Your own band
- Tri-M Music Honor Society
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
- Classic Film Club
- Film Production Club
- International Thespian Society
- Slam Poetry Club
- High School Theater Group
- Community Theater Group
You can usually find these groups in your community.
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.
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.
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
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
- Climbing Club
- Dance Team
- Hiking Club
- Intramural Sports
- Martial Arts
- Ping Pong Club
- Quidditch Clubs
- Skate Board Club
- Track & Field
- Ultimate Frisbee Club
- Water Polo
- Yoga Club
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!
- Personal Web Site
- Social Media
- YouTube Channel
There are a lot of ways to make a difference in your local community. Look forÂ volunteer groups in your school, your church, or elsewhere in your neighborhood. There are many websites, such asÂ Volunteer Match, that can help you find a local community service project that is of interest to you.
If none of the above activities are for you,Â you’re still in luck. Why? You can alwaysÂ create your ownÂ extracurricular activity!
Did you know thatÂ 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 itâ€™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 itâ€™s an outlet for your passion, creativity, and leadership.
So instead of thinking you donâ€™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.
Article reposted fromÂ PrepScholar. Photo byÂ Atikh BanaÂ onÂ Unsplash.