Extracurricular activity gives insight into the non-academic interests of an applicant, and ultimately a glimpse into student motivation. While not the most important consideration of an admission committee at Carnegie Mellon, understanding how a student spends time outside the classroom can be an interesting consideration which adds value to building a diverse freshman class.

“It is typically not the quantity of extracurricular participation, but the quality of it which ends up being an important consideration. A student does not have to be club president, captain, or newpaper editor, etc., but admission committees do appreciate meaningful contributions or experiences that a student may have had outside the classroom.”

Michael Steidel
Director of Admission
Carnegie Mellon University

“What makes a highly selective university ‘highly selective’ is the applicant pool. Far more qualified applicants will apply than can be accepted. What distinguishes a candidate will be the quality of academic curriculum and extraordinary initiative. But, also, personal qualities and achievement. That usually translates into extracurriculars. Being president isn’t as important as significant involvement.”

Roland M. Allen
Associate Director of Admissions
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Extracurriculars count insofar as they demonstrate one’s capacity to manage time, while doing well academically. The quality of the involvement is always more important than the quantity of the involvement.”

Tony Strickland
Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

“Yes, extracurriculars do count in the admissions process. While not as important as the academic record, the committee on admissions is interested in knowing what each applicant does with her or his time when not in the classroom. Please note that “extracurriculars” should not be limited to sports and leadership roles. Community service, part-time employment, forensics, boy/girl scouts … all tell us what you might be expected to ‘share with your fellow classmates’ should you enroll at our institution.”

Daniel J. Saracino
Assistant Provost for Enrollment
University of Notre Dame

“Yes, that is okay, and don’t spread yourself too thin. Do something that interests you and really get involved in it. This shows that you are interested in improving your community.”

Allen Pritchard
Assistant Director of Admissions
Randolph-Macon Woman’s College

“When reviewing a folder, I ask myself the question, ‘Has this student made good use of his/her time?’ This question can be effectively answered with extracurriculars: clubs, sports, and activities; a part-time job; or participation in groups outside of school, such as scouts, religious organizations, or community orchestras. Leadership in organizations is a good thing but it doesn’t assure me that you have done anything. Whether you are a president, captain, player, or occasional participant, represent your activities well by listing them in order of their interest to you. Do fill in the spaces on the application, no matter what you plan to attach. It is also wise to attach a list of activities (again in order of their interest to you). For each activity, give a concise, two-sentence description of the actitivity and, more important, your involvement in it. Always put a positive spin on your involvement, even if it has been limited.”

Ann Fleming Brown
Associate Dean of Admissions
Union College

“Much depends on what we need in any given year. This coming fall, for instance, I’m keen to find some choral soloists, especially sopranos and tenors. And we could surely use more cub reporters for the school paper. I didn’t need these as much last year, and may not next year. Applicants are wise to ask about such particular needs. Leadership skills are undoubtedly important and desirable, but not everyone can be a campus leader at the same time, nor should everyone want this occur. As Milton rightly put it, ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.'”

Brian Hopewell
Dean of Admission
Lyon College

“Only after you’ve passed the first hurdle of presenting an academic history that predicts academic success in the college’s curriculum. If that is not taken care of, all the offices and extracurricular accomplishments are moot. Once you’ve passed the ‘academically admissible’ review, then involvements can help you. All selective schools want a well-rounded student body, but not made up of the exactly the same type of student. We want students that bring experiential diversity, too. Some may be officers. Others worked 20 hours a week. Others performed admirably behind the scenes.”

Mike Sexton
Dean of Admissions
Lewis & Clark College