[Edit: The post below gives the impression that our conversations with admissions officers are our only reasons for believing the claims. We've also consulted with other sources such as How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) which corroborate the admissions officers' remarks]
We spoke with admissions officers at Harvard, Yale, University of Chicago, Columbia, Stanford, MIT, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Williams, Johns Hopkins, Swarthmore, Brown, Northwestern and Caltech, about how they evaluate student participation in extracurricular activities, for 15 colleges total. Some things that we found based on college's statements are below.
Kawoomba suggests that colleges' statements on the first point below can't be taken at face value. What do you think?
- Colleges generally don't prefer some extracurricular activities over others: Seven of the colleges indicated that the nature of the extracurriculars doesn't matter, as long as the student shows passion. Two of the colleges indicated that they have a preference for students who are involved in at least some activities with other people. Beyond this, no colleges indicated a preference for some extracurricular activities over others. In general, the colleges indicated that they define "extracurricular activities" very broadly, as anything outside of coursework, which could include work, sports, participation in online communities, etc.
- Colleges generally prefer depth of involvement over breadth: Six of the colleges indicated that they have no preference for whether students engage in lots of activities or a few activities, as long as they show serious involvement in their activities. Seven of the colleges said that depth matters more than breadth. None expressed a preference for many activities.
- Commitment can be important: Six of the colleges indicated that continuity of involvement and commitment matters. None said that these things don't matter.
- Achievement level can make a difference, but appears to be less important: Five of the colleges indicated that achievement level doesn't matter as much as depth of involvement. Two of the colleges indicated that higher achievement helps.