5 Underrated Extracurriculars that Look Great for College Applications


Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education



5 min read

5 Underrated Extracurriculars that Look Great for College Applications

High school is a time for discovery, learning, and growth. It's a critical phase that can determine your future path. As a result, it is crucial for you to take advantage of the possibilities that are available to you, both within and outside of the classroom. Indeed, not only will extracurricular activities allow you to pursue your interests, develop skills, and obtain useful experiences, they will help you stand out in college admissions. In this article, we will look at five underappreciated extracurricular activities that look great on resumes.

1) Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship might not be as popular as sports or student government, but it's a fantastic way to learn valuable skills and gain experience. By starting a business, you'll pick up crucial management and problem-solving abilities, as well as understanding the ins and outs of running a company. Plus, research indicates that students involved in entrepreneurship are more likely to go to college and achieve success in their future lives. Admissions officers are big fans of that!

As a student, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved in entrepreneurship. For instance, you could either launch your own business or become part of a student-led venture. Just remember, if you choose this route, it's important to tackle a problem that truly matters to you.

You can also compete in business competitions, create an entrepreneurial club at your school, or network with local entrepreneurs in your area and ask for a potential internship. Some great business competitions to look at include the Diamond Challenge, SAGE, and the Conrad Challenge.

2) Research

Research is an often overlooked extracurricular activity that high school students can really benefit from. It lets you explore your interests and gain valuable experience in a professional environment. By doing research, you can enhance your critical thinking skills, learn to analyze data, carry out experiments, and write reports. It's a great way to grow and learn while doing something you're passionate about.

Furthermore, research can be conducted in a variety of situations. For example, you can participate in a research lab at your school or a research program at a university. You can find research opportunities by cold emailing professors, consulting with your school counselor, and accessing nearby resources, like your local library or community center.

You can take part in research contests such as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair or the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. By participating in these events, you'll gain valuable experience and also have the chance to score internships and scholarships.

3) Pursuing a Passion Project

You might want to consider diving into a passion project. It's an awesome way to delve into your interests and pick up new abilities. Some cool passion projects to try are creating a website or an app, launching a podcast, or running a blog. These activities will not only help you learn important skills like coding, design, writing, or teamwork, but they'll also impress colleges, as they demonstrate your drive and imagination.

4) Volunteering in the Community

Community service is an equally valuable (and noble) extracurricular for high schools to explore. For one thing, it can be an excellent opportunity for you to give back to your community, but it can also help you gain useful experience by building leadership and communication skills.

Since studies have indicated that students who participate in community service are more likely to attend college, have better academic performance, and be more civically active, it’s a favorite activity amongst admissions officers. Volunteering at a local shelter, assisting in a community garden, or teaching a needy student are all examples of community service.

5) Academic Competitions

Another underrated extracurricular activity for high school students is academic competitions. They can be an excellent opportunity for you to obtain experience and pursue your passions.

Model UN, debate, and science contests like the Chemistry Olympiad and STS are all types of academic competitions. By participating in these activities, you can get better at public speaking and problem-solving, and also learn how to work well in a team.

Colleges, especially selective ones like Ivy League schools and Stanford, are really impressed when you can demonstrate ongoing success in competitions. They're especially interested in seeing national-level achievements.


During high school, you get to explore and grow. Extracurricular activities help you follow your passions and gain valuable experience. Some activities might be more popular, but there are a bunch that high schoolers often overlook. Entrepreneurship, research, passion projects, community service, and academic competitions are just a few examples. These activities help you build skills, gain experience, and open up future opportunities. We hope this info is helpful, and good luck with your college applications!

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Sean Yoon

Stanford (+10 colleges)

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Benjamin Sanchez Pla

Yale (+31 colleges)

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Yale (+20 colleges)

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