Non-Traditional Extracurriculars: Defy Today’s Standards

By Wiener Douyon, CollegeFindMe intern and freshman at Colby College

You’re not the standard person, so why appear as one?

For those who like to defy and be the oddball, you are the real trendsetters. You are more than what meets the eye. So, let’s make sure that colleges can see that with this list of peculiar extracurriculars (heh, like that rhyme? Try saying it like a mad scientist!)

Think outside the box

Before, I give you examples, think of what you are interested in. Anything qualifies to be an extracurricular as long as you display commitment and it’s something that is rooted in your identity. There is nothing wrong with listing pet-sitting as an extracurricular. If you love pets, put it down on your college app! I can guarantee you that the more non-traditional you get, the more outstanding you make yourself against other candidates.

Here are a few unique activities that may interest you:

Culture Clubs

Now more than ever, colleges value students involved in promoting diversity and culture. Whether it is through traditional dances or games, clubs will build community and demonstrate your passion for learning about other cultures. 

Examples include Anime Club, Cricket Club, Egyptian Mythology Club, Tango Club and others.


Government agencies/ STEM organizations

Working for the government and/or a STEM organization will distinguish you from the average high schooler. Also, these experiences will be beneficial to have while finding employment in the future.

Here are examples of possible agencies and organizations:

  • Nature reserve/ historical site
  • Local aquarium
  • Local zoo
  • A pharmaceutical company
  • A bioengineer company

Girl Scouts or Big Brothers Big Sisters programs

Being involved in an activity that you have devoted many years to will display passion and commitment. These traits will make you seem more qualified to handle an environment where many clubs are in need of committed members.

Dual Enrollment

Taking dual enrollment classes at a local college would be a jewel in your profile. This will demonstrate that you have the skills to juggle multiple activities while excelling in college-level coursework. Also, you can use those credits to get ahead and clear out some of the general education courses. You are telling colleges you are qualified.

A Semester Abroad

While this option is more on the expensive side, to be able to learn in another country is an experience only a few can talk about. If you have the opportunity, I recommend you seize it.

From one oddball to another, make sure you stay true to yourself. If your interests differ from others – that’s a good thing! You will not only stand out to your community, but also to college admissions. 

Gearing up for senior year

If I was given a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Where are you thinking of applying?”, I would probably only have about $1,000, but that’s besides the point. As I get ready for fall of senior year, the pressure is building up; going on college tours (trying to find the perfect fit), taking the SAT’s for the millionth time, working on my college essay, applying for scholarships, filling out the common application, this list could go on forever. Even writing out this list gives me anxiety, and makes this process even more surreal.

I have my mind set on going to New York City. The tall skyscrapers, people from all walks of life, and a concrete jungle where dreams are made of (yes, I am referencing Alicia Keys) calls my name. I can already imagine myself walking down Fifth Avenue or eating breakfast on the steps of the Met. It’s a city full of countless opportunities and diversity, where I see myself relating to others. You might be thinking why I would want to leave Boston, which has many prestigious universities left, right, and center. I love Boston and its people, but I think it’s time for me to be independent and explore away from home, to really discover who I am.

So who am I, what do I want to be? I am a 17 year old girl born in Nepal, raised in the United States. I am the proud co-founder of Blended, an all natural skincare company which I started with my best friend in our sophomore year of high school. This leads me to what I plan on studying in college: Business, Marketing and Psychology. I have always had a passion for business.

When I started doing The Possible Project, which is the entrepreneurship program that helped me create my business, it became a dynamic part of my life and is also why my partner and I are called the “dynamic duo.” I found myself really enjoying the marketing aspect of  business and persuading people to invest in us. Understanding my customers and knowing what they want, and how they think, makes me want to study psychology. How we think, behave, and why we think the way we do is so intriguing to me. My curiosity often leads me to do some self research as well as watching countless psychological thrillers.

This is my passion. Have you figured out yours? If not, that’s okay. That’s what college is for! You have plenty of time. I know most of you are as nervous, scared, excited, and hopeful as I am, and we can do this! It’s okay to be nervous, in fact, you should be! Do what you have to do to be your best, and trust the process. Whatever happens will be for the best, and just know that you did everything you could and you are amazing! I wish you all the best – good luck!

Simarn

True or False: Junior Year is the Hardest Year of High School

As you may have heard, junior year is considered the hardest year of high school. Having gone through junior year I can confirm that statement is very TRUE. However, I look back on my junior year very fondly because I planned a service trip to Guatemala during the summer after junior year and I started an internship at an education technology start-up company, CollegeFindMe. 

Balancing school and extracurriculars and then adding standardized tests and the college application process was really stressful, but what helped me get through junior year was having the mindset that I am building my future and that all of my hard work will pay off. Here are some tips based on stuff I did and what I wish I’d known heading into this hectic year. I also included the skills you’ll learn – these are great to mention in college essays and interviews!

What I’m glad I did:

  • Tip #1: Have a consistent routine/balance of all of your activities
    • Skill: Time management 
    • Personal Experience: At times, I felt like I had too much going on and felt so overwhelmed. I finally made a list of what activities were most important to me. I was working hard in school and studying for tests, but I still had something to look forward to. 
  • Tip #2: Take care of yourself (get enough sleep, etc.)
    • Skill: Self-Care 
    • Personal Experience: I would often eat lunch outside with my friends or plan some fun things over the weekend to destress. And face masks are very relaxing! 
  • Tip #3: Develop good study habits
    • Skill: Academic awareness
    • Personal Experience: Before I started my internship during junior year, I would often wait until after dinner on a weeknight or Sunday night to get my homework done. While I was interning, I started doing homework/studying during free periods. I was able to avoid staying up too late cramming during the week and spending more time with my friends on weekends.  
  • Tip #4: Organize everything college-related in one place (keep track of all username and passwords made for college related accounts, etc.)
    • Skill: Organization
    • Personal Experience: I kept an Excel worksheet and a Google folder with all my college application stuff and it made it very easy to find documents when I needed them. I highly recommend doing this!

What I wish I had known…

  • Tip #5: Schedule/plan out important tasks and dates (SAT or ACT exams, etc.)
    • Skill: Planning ahead 
    • Personal Experience: I took the SATs 3 times and the last time I took it was my first semester of senior year which I kind of wish I had taken it earlier because it just added to the stress of all the college application stuff going on that fall. 
  • Final Tip: Keep doing the things that make you happy. It will be a stressful year, but it can also be a fun one.  

Utilizing some of these tips and honestly just being your best self is really going to help you get through your junior year. Keep in mind that, yes, you should work hard and prepare for your academic future, but do not take the memories you make this year for granted. Make sure that you also make time for your friends and family. I wish you the best of luck this year!

Osin

Extracurricular Guide 101

Welcome to your second year of high school! It’s a brand new school year and a fresh new start– if there’s anything you wished you had done last year, you still have time to try it out this year!

One thing to remember is to not be afraid to continue exploring. It can take a while to discover and choose which extracurriculars you enjoy the most. However, try not to spread yourself too thin on too many different activities. Overcommitting means you won’t be able to make the most out of each of them.

My school always holds a two-day fair in the first month of school to showcase all our wonderful clubs!

Additionally, sophomore year is when you can start taking your passions in extracurriculars even further. I’ve listed some ways to do so below:

Clubs

  • Narrow down the focus 
    • Try to center them around something you would like to pursue as a career
  • Get more involved in your club
    • Consistent attendance at meetings shows your commitment 
    • Pursue a leadership position
  • Start a club if your school doesn’t have one you’re really interested in

Sports

  • Keep yourself active and in shape
  • Participate in an out-of-school or travelling team
  • Maintain good relationships with your coaches and upperclassmen
    • College recruitment for sports often comes through coaches
    • Older players may be able to impart useful advice
  • Keep your grades up
    • You may not be allowed to continue playing a sport at school if your grades drop
  • Take advantage of academic support programs for athletes
    • Alternatively, ask friends or hire a tutor for help with schoolwork 
  • Aim for a captain position on your team
    • This shows colleges that you also have the values and qualities of a leader

Volunteering

  • Find a location where you can consistently volunteer long term to demonstrate commitment
    • An example would be every Saturday at a local soup kitchen or food bank
  • Find an initiative meaningful to you
  • Create your own team of volunteers for a cause 

Other

  • Examples: part-time job or research in a lab
    • Reflects things important to you
    • Provides unique experiences that you learn from

At the end of the day, extracurriculars should be things that you enjoy doing. Although they do contribute to your college applications, participating in them should be something you do for yourself and NOT for your resume. The more genuinely passionate you are for an extracurricular, the more it will show in your performance in them, which will aid your personal growth and make you shine as an individual.

Emily

Fresh Start to Freshman Year

Congratulations! You’ve made it to high school. After many years in elementary and middle school, you’ve finally reached the last step before you go off to college. 

Looking back at it now, there are some things that would have been very helpful to know in my freshman year. If I could go back in time and suggest something to my 9th grade self, I would encourage her to be even more explorative! 

Your ultimate goal in high school is to get a few ideas about what you’re passionate about, and what you would be interested in doing in the future. It’s important that you participate in activities and meet people that truly make you happy!

Extracurriculars

  • Try out a lot of extracurricular activities
    • Narrow them down to be in line with your interests
  • Sign up for the email list of any clubs of interest
    • Show up to introductory meetings
    • Choose a few to stick with

When I actively participated in my extracurriculars, I was able to meet amazing upperclassmen who gave me great advice regarding surviving finals weeks and on what good restaurants were nearby. Because they had already gone through the whole process before, their experience helped make mine even better! 

High school friends can turn out to be lifelong friends. Making new friends and going out of my comfort zone to interact with peers led to a lot of personal growth for me. It is always easier to struggle through my least favorite class with a friendly face and get help on homework if I need it. 

Furthermore, it is important to establish yourself as a good student. Building rapport with my teachers really made my time in class more enjoyable, but also provided me with useful references.

Rapport with Teachers

  • Go after class/school for extra help
    • This shows that you care about their class!
  • Actively participate in class 
    • Engagement exhibits your enthusiasm to learn!
  • Do your best on your classwork/homework/projects/assessments
    • This will overall be beneficial to your learning of concepts!

In the short term, this has helped me build enough trust so that I could request extensions on assignments when I really needed to. In the long term, my familiarity with them materialized in the form of letters of recommendation for programs I applied to. The better a teacher knows you, the more personalized and genuine their recommendations will be!

On top of all of this, make sure to organize your time efficiently. It was helpful for me to create a chart/calendar with all of my weekly activities to visually display my schedule and keep myself on track. If you are having trouble making your schedule work, make sure to consult your family, friends or teachers!

Finding the perfect balance between schoolwork, friends and family, sleep and extracurriculars is essential to leading a healthy and happy high school life, and I wish you the best in doing so!

Emily

Who Would You Meet? Essay Contest

Simon Sinek once said, “Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet.” If you could meet any historically or socially popular figure, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Tell us in 200 words or less. 

Eligibility

To enter this contest, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Current high school and transfer students
  • Ages 14 and up
  • Must have a complete CollegeFindMe profile

Essay Length

  • 200 words or less (please check word count before you submit)

Winner Selection
The winner will be:

  • Selected based on their ability to demonstrate thoughtfulness, creativity and proper grammatical usage.
  • Notified via email on November 15, 2019.  
  • Asked to provide a picture and a brief testimonial to be used on our social media channels and website.
  • Required to provide a photocopy of their current student ID to verify their eligibility.

Prizes

  • One winner will receive a Beats Pill+ speaker.
  • The winner will be announced in CollegeFindMe’s monthly e-newsletter and on the Scholarship Winners page.

Ready to submit? 

Please have your essay and a good photo of yourself ready to upload. 
What makes a good photo?

  • Ask someone else to take your photo. Snapchat filters and selfies are cool, but let’s keep it professional here, please.
  • Make sure your face is centered in the photo.
  • Provide a color photo, preferably taken in natural light.

Remember, we’ll be posting this photo on social media and in our newsletter so make sure it’s a good one!

To stand out with college admissions teams and to learn more about colleges and the application process, visit us at collegefindme.com.

Enter Now

No Essay $1000 Giveaway

We believe that students are more than just a score. You have talents and passions that say more about who you are than your grades and test scores. Tell us 2-3 things you’re passionate about and you could be selected to win $1000 to cover any school-related expenses. Enter by September 30, 2019.

Eligibility 
To enter this contest, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Current US high school students and transfer students
  • Ages 14 and up
  • Must have a complete CollegeFindMe profile

Winner Selection 

  • One winner will be selected by a random drawing by October 15, 2019. The winner will be notified via email by October 20, 2019.
  • Winner will be asked to provide a picture and a brief testimonial to be used on our social media channels and website.
  • Winner will be required to provide a photocopy of their current student ID to verify their eligibility.

Prizes 

  • One winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used for educational expenses such as tuition, housing, books or other school expenses.
  • The winner will be announced in CollegeFindMe’s monthly e-newsletter and on the Scholarship Winners page.

To stand out to the college admissions team, learn more about colleges and the application process, visit us at collegefindme.com.

Apply Now

“Awareness Month” Video Contest

Students today are passionate about many issues and causes. Some issues/causes receive more attention because an entire month is dedicated to raising awareness. 
In 2-3 minutes, tell us in a video what issue or cause should receive its own “awareness” month and why. 

Eligibility
To enter this contest, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Current high school and transfer students
  • Ages 14 and up
  • Must have a complete CollegeFindMe profile

Video Essay Length

  • 2-3 minutes; files cannot exceed 5MB

Winner Selection

  • Winner will be selected based on their ability to demonstrate thoughtfulness, creativity, quality of filming and eloquence – be mindful of sound quality, lighting and background. 
  • Winner will be notified via email on September 15, 2019.  
  • Winner will be asked to provide a picture and brief testimonial to be used on our social media channels and website.
  • Winner will be required to provide a photocopy of their current student ID to verify their eligibility.

Prizes

  • One winner will receive Beats by Dr. Dre BeatsX Earphones.
  • The winner will be announced in CollegeFindMe’s monthly e-newsletter and on the Scholarship Winners page.

To stand out with college admissions teams and to learn more about colleges and the application process, visit us at collegefindme.com.

Apply Now

Dream Career Essay Contest

Paolo Coelho once said, “Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.” You’ve probably daydreamed about what you’ll pursue as a career after college. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why? Tell us in 200 words or less. 

Eligibility
To enter this contest, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Current high school and transfer students
  • Ages 14 and up
  • Must have a complete CollegeFindMe profile

Essay Length

  • 200 words or less (please check word count before you submit)

Winner Selection
The winner will be:

  • Selected based on their ability to demonstrate thoughtfulness, creativity and proper grammatical usage.
  • Notified via email on October 15, 2019.  
  • Asked to provide a picture and a brief testimonial to be used on our social media channels and website.
  • Required to provide a photocopy of their current student ID to verify their eligibility.

Prizes

  • One winner will receive Apple AirPods.
  • The winner will be announced in CollegeFindMe’s monthly e-newsletter and on the Scholarship Winners page.

To stand out with college admissions teams and to learn more about colleges and the application process, visit us at collegefindme.com.

Enter Now

Back to School Blues?

Last summer I visited family in China, and there was a really pretty scenic spot with lights on a pier overlooking water! – Emily Sun

By Emily Sun, Junior at Boston Latin School

I stretch my arms and lean back in my beach chair. The sun is still shining brightly in the sky, and I can smell the slightly salty scent of crashing waves. I love summer. 

As much as I’ve enjoyed my share of beaches, an entire month has already passed and now it’s August. To me, August means… school starts in a month! I bet many of you aren’t the most excited at the thought of going back to school. Me neither! After all, what’s waiting are nights of grinding away at homework and stressing over tests — even college app deadlines if you’re a senior. 

However, going back to school also means seeing friends and either playing sports or joining after-school club meetings. It was fun having copious amounts of free time, and snacking whenever I wanted, but inevitably school is looming ahead. 

As I think about the good and the bad of returning to school, I have some suggestions for how you can make the best of your August before school starts.

1. Finish your summer homework! That might mean summer math packets, or books on a summer reading list, but either way you will need to complete it. I’m trying to spend an hour 2-3 days a week getting it out of the way so I’m not staying up late the night before school starts to finish everything.

2. Prepare yourself mentally and physically:

  • Mentally: Each year of high school becomes more important and the courses are harder. Similar to finishing my summer homework, I’m also reviewing some of the notes I took in class last year. I’ll be taking AP classes this year, so revisiting some concepts that weren’t easy will help build my confidence. I’ll also know where to ask for extra help from teachers once school starts. Getting back into concentrating and homework mode is not fun, but I did this last year and it made starting sophomore year much easier. 
  • Physically: Since I’m free from getting up early for school I go to bed VERY late and therefore wake up VERY late. My summer sleep schedule has been quite… wacky. To avoid being overtired during the first few days of classes, I try to adjust my schedule the week prior to school so waking up at way-too-early-in-the-morning for school isn’t so painful. And now that I’ve finished binge-watching Black Mirror, I can get to bed at a decent hour too. 

3. Keep in touch! Summertime is a great time to establish personal connections at jobs, internships or summer school while exploring your interests or passions. I’m interning at an education technology start-up called CollegeFindMe. I plan to keep in touch with my manager so if I need advice, a reference on my resume, or a recommendation letter for college, I’ll have someone other than a teacher or coach to help me.

4. Enjoy the rest of your summer! Even as you prepare yourself for school, summer is still a time for you to have fun. Catch up with your friends, see a good movie or enjoy being outside – whatever makes you happy! 

Good luck everyone!

Emily