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A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 12
All college applications have a section dedicated to extracurriculars—those clubs, organizations, and other activities that students participate in outside of general schoolwork (For more specific guidelines for what counts as an extracurricular, click here).
These extracurricular activities are essential to any college application, as they indicate what you’re passionate about and what you may be interested in getting involved with at their university. In addition, participating in extracurricular activities signals to a University Admissions Officer that you have strong time management and other professional skills that may benefit him/her in the future.
By the time you get to 12th grade, you should already have an idea of what your extracurricular interests are (Unsure of where to start earlier in high school? Check out these guides to Extracurricular activities in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade). Now that you’re applying to colleges, though, it’s time to look at these extracurricular activities from a new perspective. You need to not only participate in your extracurriculars on a day-to-day basis, but also reflect on your last few years of participation so you can make your experience look spectacular on your college application. We at CV have some guidelines to help you do just that.
What’s special about extracurriculars in 12th grade?
12th grade is perhaps one of the most exciting times for extracurriculars. In all of your clubs and activities, you are one of the oldest and most experienced people in the room. Whether it be Athletics, Speech and Debate, or any other club/organization, your skills have been honed and you are at the top of your game.
However, there is a downside to being at the top. While this may be your most successful year in extracurriculars, most of your success likely won’t occur before you send in your college applications. Don’t despair, however! Most colleges allow you to send updates of any awards or achievements between the time you send in your application and the time you get the results. Note that this does not apply for early decision/early admission applications. Thus, while your greatest extracurricular year may be ahead of you, your focus should be on highlighting your extracurricular achievements from the last three years.
Also, senior year is the time when some of your accomplishments in extracurricular activities may have college recruiters looking your way. Particularly for athletics, 12th grade is the time to show the best of your ability. After all, admission to top universities and scholarships may be on the line.
As for those extracurricular activities that don’t allow for college recruitment, you should consider which of these you want to continue in college. Once you decide that, you can start preparing for collegiate achievement in these as soon as possible.
What can I expect from extracurriculars in 12th grade?
The simple answer is that it depends on the activity. Some extracurriculars are competitive while others are community service or interest-based. For those that are competitive, you will be expected to compete on a higher level with other experienced and skilled people like yourself.
For non-competitive extracurriculars, you will be expected to know the most about whatever activity/interest the club is centered around. You should understand whatever the organization is doing on a deeper level than the underclassmen, assuming that you’ve been participating in these extracurriculars for many years. Younger participants will be looking to you for guidance and instruction. You should be able to answer most of their questions.
Regardless of the type of extracurricular, you may notice your relationships with those affiliated with the organization strengthen during your final year in high school. As a senior, you will likely be expected to fulfill some sort of leadership role, whether it be President, Secretary/Treasurer, or an informal mentor to younger students. With this comes increased interaction with your peers and the opportunity to make a difference in their performance in the club.
In addition, you will likely see your relationship with your club/organization’s advisor strengthen. At this point, your extracurricular sponsors will have known you for more than a year (often 3-4 years!). They are the ones that have seen you grow, mature, and demonstrate your boundless potential. Hang on to these relationships with your extracurricular advisors, as they will be great people to write your college recommendation letters or serve as a reference for you in the future.
Overall, you’ll see your extracurriculars seem more serious and time-consuming during your Senior Year. What with your newfound leadership roles in your activities, 12th grade coursework that likely includes AP courses, work, Senior Activities, and college applications, you are likely to have your hands full.
What should I be aiming for in my 12th grade extracurriculars?
At this point, you’ve done most of what you’re going to do in your extracurricular activities. The key now is to finish strong. You have spent the last few years in high school building up your skills and gaining experience. Now you have one final year to show it.
While it may be tempting to slack off and fall prey to the “Senioritis” epidemic, it is important to remember that your performance in your extracurricular activities still matter.
College admissions offices allow students to provide an update after you’ve submitted your application, perhaps during an interview, an applications portal, or through a simple email. You should be able to tell them of new achievements you’ve made from the time you submitted your application until you speak to them again. Excelling at your extracurricular activities is a great way to demonstrate you are still committed to success.
Furthermore, as your college acceptances start coming in and you figure out where you want to spend the next four years, you should also start thinking about which extracurricular activities you want to continue in college. Think about which activities you are the most passionate about—which ones make you excited and make you want to do your best work? These are likely the ones that you want to continue in college.
When you decide which activities you want to continue in college, you can get a head start and look into those activities on a collegiate level. Do your extracurricular activities exist at the university you’re attending? If yes, how can you ensure you’ll be accepted to the college club/organization? If no, would it be possible for you start one at the university?
These extracurricular plans may even be something for you to mention in your college application. It will give the admissions committee a better idea of what your role would be at their university.
Most importantly, however, you should think about the legacy you are going to leave in your high school activities. Have you had a positive impact on your clubs/organizations? Have you shaped them in some way that people will remember? Will future participants in these extracurricular activities be better off because of the impact you made? If yes, you’re already on your way to leaving a great legacy. If no, you have one year to change that.
Ultimately, Senior Year is your last chance to participate in the extracurricular activities that you have come to love and excel at. This is the time to cherish the experience, skills, and memories you have gained from your extracurriculars and channel them into your college applications and professional development.
For more information on extracurricular activities and how to talk about them on college application, check out some of our posts below.
How to Determine Which Clubs to Join: A Guide for Freshmen
A Guide to Freshman and Sophomore Years
Your Comprehensive Guide to Extracurriculars
How Much Do Extracurricular Activities Matter in College Admissions?
What Counts as an Extracurricular?
Well-Rounded or Specialized?
How to Effectively Balance Your Time in High School
Will Quitting an Extracurricular Reflect Poorly on My College Applications?
Do I Need Community Service for My College Applications?
Why You Should Send a Resume to Colleges?
Your Resume, Revamped: Securing Leadership Positions and Perfecting Your Extracurricular Profile
The Dos and Don’ts of Joining Extracurriculars Your Senior Year
How Do I Get an Internship?
Is It Too Late to Join a Club Junior or Senior Year?
Want to make the most of your high school career and develop strong skills and interests early on? Check out CollegeVine’s Mentorship Program. You will be paired with a mentor from a top college who will work with you one on one to help you discover your interests, develop significant self-motivation, and gain the skills necessary to show the best side of yourself to college admissions committees.