Showing that You’re Well-Rounded: Extra-Curricular Activities

In general on July 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

Extra-curricular activities are known for helping boost your reputation, whether you want to transfer to a university, apply to graduate school, or get a job. The more competitive things get in the job market and in school, the more employers and schools may consider extra-curricular activities. Extra-curricular activities aren’t just good for your resume, though. They can also help you meet friends (both Americans and other international students), give you time away from studying, and help you discover more about your own values and talents.

When I was in college, I was required to participate in extra-curricular activities in order to keep a scholarship. Here are some of the things I ended up doing during my four years of school:

  • Community service to mental health hospital
  • Tutoring kids who were learning to read
  • Being part of the school’s bell choir
  • Starting the school’s “literary society” — a club on campus for writers
  • Working on the school’s literary journal
  • Writing for the student newspaper
  • Performing in plays

I know.  I was a total nerd. You can see that I wasn’t interested sports and that I liked writing. I also tried some things that were new to me, like the bell choir (music made with bells in different sizes). Some extra-curricular activities I stuck with and some I didn’t, but participating in each activity helped me connect with other students and try things that I might not otherwise have tackled. It also helped me learn about my own likes and dislikes. I learned that I loved working on an literary journal and that I loved talking with other students about writing. I also learned that the bell choir wasn’t, ultimately, for me.

One trick, I think, is to not take extra-curricular activities too seriously. They’re meant to be fun for you — not just another item on your to-do list. I think it also helps to try just one new activity at a time, rather trying to fill your schedule with as much as you can fit. See what happens when you become fully active in something you really enjoy.

With that in mind, how do you find extra-curricular activities on your campus? Most campuses have student clubs or organizations, where you join other students who have a similar interest, whether it’s surfing, music, or debate. If your school has an international student office, you might also ask there about campus clubs. If there’s a club that you’d like to see that doesn’t exist yet, go ahead and start one. The important thing is not that you do what you think an employer or school admissions department would like — but that you do something you enjoy — something that will mean a lot to you. Passion, after all, is one of the most attractive qualities in resumes and applications.

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I’m on Facebook, by the way. If you’d like to friend me, check out my profile here.


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