The extracurricular decisions a student makes in ninth and tenth grade of high school play a huge role in determining his or her odds of college admission by twelfth grade. Don't miss your chance to build a strong extracurricular foundation by pursuing a combination of extracurricular activities that will make your application stand out from the pack. If you are a parent of a ninth or tenth grade student, I recommend sitting your child down for what I call an Extracurricular Intervention.
The middle of the academic year is the perfect time for such a discussion. This is the time of year I find myself often meeting with freshmen, sophomores, and their parents for just such an early intervention in order to assess a student's extracurricular accomplishments to date and potential extracurricular interests. With such information at my disposal I am able to help the student determine what adjustments, if any, need to be made for the remainder of high school in order to maximize the student's chances of admission at whichever colleges ultimately make up the student's college list. Having a situational analysis as to the current state of a student's extracurricular profile when the student is an underclassman is the best way for a student to strategically and confidently determine how to best use his or her free time through the first half of senior year. Not having such an extracurricular intervention sows the seeds of a chaotic extracurricular life that will likely hurt, not help, the student's chances of college admission later.
Depth over breadth in the student's extracurricular life is important; however, many students don't know how to pursue depth in their extracurricular undertakings. In such situations, parents and students often call me to help a student differentiate their extracurricular background in a way that allows the student to have a fulfilling and impressive extracurricular life.
Remember, it's more competitive than ever to get into college. Taking stock of your extracurricular status now will guarantee more acceptance letters later! Whether with my company, Tactical College Consulting, your parents, or your college counselor, it's never too early to start thinking strategically about your extracurricular choices because they will directly influence your chances of college admission.
Craig Meister is president of Tactical College Consulting, a Baltimore-based college admissions consultancy that specializes in giving students the tools they need to find and get into their best-fit college.