Can I get into College without Extracurriculars?

Can I get into College without Extracurriculars?

Extracurriculars have become a growing interest among college students and employers alike. They are additional activities pursued by students outside their academic routine during their school or college life. Ranging from sports and community service to performing arts and publications, extracurriculars have helped students to grow and develop intellectually and practically.  

Trying to get into college without extracurriculars greatly depends on where you are applying and if that institute is competitive. Although not impossible, getting admission (within the US) without listing any extracurriculars can prove extremely difficult as colleges have started to place a high value on them. Long gone are the days when institutions focused on only academic results. As time went on and society continued to grow and advance, competition became a rising problem that needed to be tackled efficiently. Some institutions (mostly competitive ones) came to the consensus that some basic skills attained related to the major students are applying for will showcase that student’s enthusiasm and make a great addition to the school’s student body. Thus, making extracurriculars one of the top priorities for successful college admission.

Benefits of Extracurricular activities

  • Extracurriculars introduce students to real-world experiences and combine academic knowledge with practicality. 
  • Extracurricular activities help students in understanding the importance of leadership and teamwork. 
  • They can make your college admission portfolio stand out from the rest.
  • They help students interact with similar interests fellows. 
  • It helps in the personal, emotional, and cognitive development of the individual.
  • Students develop efficient problem-solving skills.
  • Students can explore their passions and focus on the ones they are serious about.

Types of extracurricular activities 

Rare activities

  • Activities that showcase impeccable leadership qualities and exceptional academic merit. The top category of extracurriculars that are readily accepted by colleges.
  • Examples: Honorable accomplishments, winning competitions on national/international levels, etc.

Less Common Activities

  • Activities that lie between rare and common ones. 
  • Examples: A high leadership position at a reputable organization/club, distinctions in respective extracurricular activities, winning regional level competitions, etc.

Common Activities

  • Activities that are of lesser value than the ones mentioned above, but still exhibit notable qualities.
  • Examples: Lesser distinctions in said activities, minor leadership roles at well-known clubs/organizations, etc.

Extremely Common Activities

  • These are the more common activities and are usually seen mentioned on almost all admission forms. 
  • Examples: Common roles in sports and arts clubs, or just participation in volunteering or other activities.

For your application to stand out, it’s best to list activities that fall under the first two types. You want to make an impact on your college admission board and prove to them that you are a worthy candidate for their institute. 

How many activities should I apply for?

You know how the phrase goes “Quality over quantity”. It doesn’t matter how many you apply for, but rather, which ones you list in your portfolio. A strong application holds about 8-10 extracurricular activities. You should be able to list at least 3-4 activities where you shine the best. 

Most college applicants will have at least 3-4. So that is why it is recommended specializing in 8-10 to have the upper hand and an impressive portfolio. 

Although 8-10 might seem like a lot, you can start with a few each year. That way you’ll get a sense of direction and soon can explore new activities. By continuing to do this, you can figure out which ones you are more passionate about and focus on those accordingly. 

Activities That Make an Impact

Before diving into this topic, it should be noted that whatever category you decide to take up must have some relevance to the major you want to apply for. Yes, having a hand at many different activities does sound interesting but there is a possibility that it puts off the admission board. They may feel like you do not have any sense of direction and that is something you don’t want to present.

  • Internships
  • These are the best activities you can list on your portfolio to show the college your determination towards the major of your choice. 
  • These activities provide you with on-field experience, something that adds to an impressive portfolio. 
  • Leadership Roles
  • Among the categories that almost all colleges look for, leadership roles top the list.
  • Leadership roles of any kind can land you on the college’s student body council.
  • Examples: Leader of a community/volunteer work, captain of a sports team, president of a society or club, etc.
  • Athletics
  • Participating in a sports club reveals well-built teamwork, commitment, determination, and drive to achieve success. 
  • Such qualities convey to a college that you can thrive in their environment.
  • Academic Clubs
  • If you are passionate about studies and have a difficult time picking an activity, then academic clubs would be perfect for you. 
  • Such clubs help you further understand complex concepts and help you socialize in the process. 


Academic competition increases by the year and therefore, extra measures should be taken to come out on top. If you are passionate about getting a higher education, having good grades is important but so are extracurricular activities. Turning your hobbies into strengths has never become easier and to add to that it also broadens your prospects for a successful future. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I face any consequences if I lied on my application?

Of course. Not only will your application be canceled, but if the lie is severe enough, the college can cancel your right to a degree.

Can I get into an ivy league college without any extracurriculars?

The chances are very slim. Even if you scored much higher than the college criteria, you must take into consideration that you are competing against thousands of students around the world. Many of which might have the same merit as yourself. Due to limited seats in college, not everyone can be accepted. This is where extracurriculars come into play. They boost your chances of getting that seat. 

What is the value of extracurriculars?

Extracurriculars show colleges that you have hobbies and interests outside just studying. It shows that you can build character and have skills that can prove useful in the real world. It also shows that you have strong discipline and social skills. Extracurriculars can also help you boost up a low GPA.