What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Why Is an Extracurricular Spike Important?

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



Performing well across all subject areas will help you get into college, but admissions offices want to know what makes you stand out too. Pursuing extracurricular activities related to your interests shows that you can put in the work toward realizing your goals. If you’re passionate about a particular subject, colleges want to hear about it. This article will discuss why finding your unique interests matters and how it will eventually help you navigate the admissions process. 


Finding Something Unique


Time and time again, you’ve been told that it’s important to be well-rounded as a student. It may seem that all colleges are seeking out students who have achieved straight A’s and have worked hard as athletes, artists, leaders, volunteers, etc. 


While you should definitely aim to succeed in all your courses, it’s not necessarily true that colleges are looking for students who have done perfectly well in all arenas. “Lopsided” students, as they’re called—students who have a particular talent—can actually have an edge in the admissions process.


Something unique, a passion or a pursuit that sets you apart from other students, will help your case as a college applicant. Admissions offices believe that students who are working toward something special and who have shown that they can put in the work to achieve their particular goals will go on to be leaders in their respective fields. 


This particular passion will typically take the form of an extracurricular spike. When you have talent for and interest in a certain subject, you will naturally want to perform activities related to this subject. You don’t need to have many different interests; you can just have one or two.


These activities don’t necessarily need to be related to coursework, though they can be. Taking classes that tie into your interests will reflect well on your overall application. If you have an interest in research or public policy, taking classes in politics and government while also joining organizations related to politics and social causes will fit into your spike. 


Pursuing a unique path or unique passion will help distinguish you from other applicants. In creating an extracurricular spike, you will show that you’re devoted to pursuing a certain path and have already taken strides to be successful in it.


Applying to College with a Spike


When you’re ready to apply to college and have already pursued your special interests, you can start to organize your application around a particular theme. This theme will align with your past classes and extracurricular activities and help show what exactly makes you unique.


The concept of an application theme ties in closely with an extracurricular spike. You’ve already done activities that have focused your interests in certain subjects, which means you know what you’ve done to mark yourself as unique.


A theme helps create a narrative about yourself. The things you’ve done have been building toward the goals you have. When you look at your own history, you can see clearly what you want and what you’ve worked toward.


This theme will be reflected in all parts of your application—your classes, your extracurriculars, and your writing. Your personal statement will show details of it, as will any supplementary essays. 


By following your passions and working with your own unique aim in mind, you’ll develop extracurriculars that form a spike. You will have created a certain profile, and this will show in your college application. When you keep the idea of a cohesive theme in mind as you apply to colleges, you’ll be able to help admissions officers understand who you are. Without ever having met you, they can see why you stand out from all the others.