As your child moves through high school, participation in after-school "clubs" can be a transformational experience - or a colossal waste of time.
Now would be a great time to sit down with your child to discuss how to think about after-school opportunities.
How After-School Clubs Can Help
High school clubs can benefit students in many ways:
In the context of college admissions, "Clubs" are considered Extracurricular Activities because they happen "outside of the classroom". Other Extracurricular Activities include sports, jobs, music, theater, child care responsibilities, etc.
As you may know, there is room for 10 Extracurricular Activities on the Common Application. Especially at the more competitive colleges, this is the section that colleges look at to get more insight into what makes your child "tick".
Considerations before joining a club:
Common After-School Clubs:
Start Your Own Club
Many schools are open to students who want to start their own clubs. Not only does this show great initiative, but it's easier to establish a leadership position in the club when you're in charge it. I've had PrepWellers start a Shark Tank Club (for entrepreneurs), Cryptocurrency Club, Escape Room Club, Military Club, eBay Flippers Club, etc.
How to Help Your Child Select a Club(s)
Depth not Breadth
And remember, when it's time to apply to colleges, most will appreciate the depth of engagement, participation, and leadership over the absolute number of clubs.
Who would you select?
Sally started a Shark Tank Club freshman year. It's a club for budding entrepreneurs who want to discuss business ideas. The club started out with only 3 students. By Sally's senior year, the club had over 50 fully-engaged students. It became one of the most popular clubs on campus. The club now sponsors a "Shark Tank Business Plan Contest" that attracts community leaders from around the city who judge five groups of high school entrepreneurs seeking start-up capital. The winner of the contest wins $10K.
Justin joined five different clubs: Spanish, Key Club, Soup Kitchen Club, Book Club, and History Club. His attendance was sketchy over the years. Many of the clubs had overlapping meeting times. Since he never got overly involved in any one club, he never earned a leadership position. Technically, he made it to 50% of the meetings but had little impact on the club members or community. He didn't learn much about himself along the way, either.
Justin has more activities to enter under "Extracurriculars" on his college application, but most admissions officers would consider these activities "fluff".
Sally, on the other hand, could talk about building the Shark Tank Club for hours and hours. It helped her learn how to network, meet other classmates, interact with community leaders, and talk in front of large groups of people. It also reinforced her strong interest in entrepreneurship.
Who's the more appealing candidate?
Teens should strive to be thoughtful and strategic about what clubs to join during high school. Not every club will be a perfect fit, but it's important to approach the process with a plan in mind. Be intentional.
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Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.
Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.