Extracurricular activities are important as a secondary factor in the college admission process. According to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, Grades in College Prep Course, Strength of Curriculum, Tests Scores, and Grades in all Sources are more important in the admission decision than Extracurricular activities.
The Essay or Writing Sample, Teachers Recommendation, and Counselor Recommendation also surpasses Extracurricular Activities in importance. In fact, Extracurricular Activities comes in just behind Student’s Demonstrated Interest and Class Rank.
Given the pressure on students to not just participate in activities but to excel at them, you would think that Extracurricular activities would be more important. They are important for a small subset of students applying to the most competitive colleges and universities in the country and those are the ones that media likes to talk about.
Students applying to these schools will all have “maxed out” the previously mentioned categories. When everyone has high grades and test scores and outstanding teacher recommendations, colleges need some other way to distinguish students from one another. This is why candidates for these schools are encouraged to have something other than ordinary extracurricular activities to put on their application.
There is one other situation where extracurricular activities can be important-scholarships and merit aid. In some cases, the activity may be required to even apply for the scholarship. Otherwise, the situation is similar to students applying to the most competitive schools, it’s a way for candidates to separate themselves from the competition that has similar academic qualifications.