Interested in the social sciences? Check out these extracurricular activities!


Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education



6 min read

Interested in the social sciences? Check out these extracurricular activities!

The social sciences are a wide assortment of academic disciplines that include topics such as anthropology, economics, communications, library science, law, psychology, and others. With so many different disciplines in this field, it might be difficult to prepare your college applications early on—especially since high schools rarely offer many social science classes.

That’s where your extracurricular activities come into play. Colleges have many more academic options in far more disciplines than most high schools, so you may never have taken an academic course in your selected major until you get on campus. Your extracurricular profile, on the other hand, can demonstrate your enthusiasm for a subject as well as how your abilities and attributes make you a fantastic addition to any freshman class.

If you want to attend a top-tier institution, keep in mind that every applicant will have excellent grades and test scores; having outstanding extracurriculars on your application will help your application stand out even further.

The Four Extracurricular Activity Levels

Because the Common Application has ten slots for activities, it can be tempting to enter high school with the mindset of joining every group imaginable and seeing what sticks. This technique might result in a long list of extracurricular activities, but not necessarily a well-thought-out one. When college admissions committees look at your extracurricular profile, they want to know where you spent your time, what you did, and what attributes they may attribute to you as a consequence. We've divided your possible involvements into four tiers to help you understand what these committees look for most in an extracurricular profile.

Tier four activities are those that you may enjoy and devote some time to, but your contributions are often insignificant and lack important accomplishments. This might mean being a general member of a club or working a low-stress part-time job. You may be wondering why you would bother with a tier four activity at all, but don't dismiss them. Tier four activities are an excellent method to balance your applicant profile by displaying a different side of yourself that may not be apparent in the rest of your application.

Tier three activities are a step up from tier four activities, typically with an intermediate level of achievement. This might include activities in which you have some amount of responsibility or have received an award, but not at highest level of achievement. This could mean serving as treasurer for your high school debate team or playing a supporting role in the school musical.

Tier two activities demonstrate a high level of achievement or leadership skills and are an excellent addition to your extracurricular profile. Tier two activities include being president of a well-known or respected student organization, leading a big local volunteer effort, making all-state in sports or music, or starting a club with some notable achievement. This is the highest level of achievement you will find on most students' profiles.

Tier one activities represent the greatest level of achievement, typically a nationally recognized accomplishment that demonstrates extraordinary capability in that domain. Tier one activities could include winning a national science fair, being nationally rated in a sport, or organizing a volunteer activity that receives significant media exposure. Because actual tier one activities are uncommon, college admissions committees view them positively. Including one on your application will undoubtedly make you stand out.

Extracurricular Activities to Consider in the Social Sciences

When arranging your extracurricular activities, you should include a variety of activities of various tiers and types that demonstrate what you will bring to a college campus. Aim for a variety of activities that reflect your varied interests, with a deeper, higher-level involvement in a couple things that illustrate why you would be an ideal fit for the social science you intend to study.

There are two primary categories of extracurriculars that you might wish to investigate if you are interested in the social sciences.

Clubs Based on a Common Interest

These are exactly what they sound like: clubs founded on a common interest in a subject. You could check to see if your high school has a club linked to your desired major. If it does not, you could consider starting one (which in most cases would be a tier two accomplishment). Some examples of potential clubs to start include the following:

  • Social Psychology Club

  • Economics Club

  • Roman History Club

  • Mythology Club

  • Political Science Club

Academic Teams, Competitions, and Challenges

Although there are less competitions dedicated toward the social sciences than other disciplines, participating in a general knowledge academic competition or an academic team might demonstrate an affinity for interdisciplinary research, which would assist any social science major.

Academic Decathlon is a national team competition that consists of seven multiple-choice tests, two subjective performance events, and an essay requiring knowledge of various fields (including art, language and literature, science, and social science). The decathlon is designed to attract students with varying levels of achievement, making it an excellent extracurricular option if your GPA isn't as high as you'd want, as competition results are based on GPA divisions.

The National History Day Contest encourages students all across the world to conduct their own research on a historical topic of their choosing, with local winners advancing to the national competition. This is an excellent approach to go deeply into a hobby while also demonstrating your potential for intellectual inquiry on your extracurricular profile.

Quiz Bowl is a quiz competition in which two teams compete against one other to answer questions from academic areas like history, literature, and science, as well as current events, pop culture, and sports. Quiz Bowl participation can range from tier four (intramural competitions inside your school) to tier one (national championships).


These are just a few of the extracurricular activities accessible to you if you are considering a major in the social sciences. Look for activities that will help you highlight your unique abilities and interests, and spend your time and energy to them so that you end up having a diverse range of activities. Good luck!

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