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Extracurriculars for High Schoolers Interested in Studying Business

If you are fascinated by markets, love economics, or just want a job enables you to travel or be your own boss, you might be interested in studying business. A business education and a career in business can offer incredible opportunities—but you’ll need to work hard and plan carefully to achieve your business dreams. 


Top U.S. undergraduate business programs are highly selective; though you’ll need strong grades and high test scores to gain admission, these alone won’t necessarily land you a seat in your top-choice business program. 


To impress the admissions committee, you’ll also need to demonstrate business-relevant personal qualities. These qualities might include your leadership skills, ability to commit to and complete tasks, and dedication to your community. But how can you showcase these qualities on a college application? Extracurricular involvement is an excellent way to highlight personal qualities and career-related skills. Read on to learn more about extracurriculars that can demonstrate that you’ve got what it takes to succeed as a business student.


The Four Tiers of Extracurricular Activities

To help you understand how different extracurriculars will strengthen your undergraduate business program application, we’ll first go through a big-picture framework you can use to understand different extracurriculars.


Of course, simply signing up for a high school club or working at a soup kitchen for a weekend likely won’t impress the admissions committee. The impressiveness of your extracurriculars will vary according to a variety of factors. At CollegeVine, we find it helpful to break extracurriculars up into four tiers, which correspond to their positive impact on your application. With this approach, you can evaluate how admissions committees will likely view your accomplishments in comparison to those of other applicants. 


  • Tier four activities tend to show up most frequently on applications. Not surprisingly, they will have the weakest impact on your application. Your involvement in tier four activities is typically only peripheral—you participated but never gained leadership positions or recognition. Tier four activities could range from playing in your school’s band for three years to being a member of the finance club. These activities won’t make your application “pop,” but they can establish your interest in a given field.
  • Tier three activities are slightly more impressive; for an activity to be tier three, you should generally achieve some level of distinction within that activity. Examples of tier three activities include becoming the treasurer of your school’s Spanish club, winning third place at the school science fair, or achieving all-district orchestra selection. Generally, tier three activities and achievement highlight skills in a particular area, but they aren’t especially unique or exceptional.
  • Tier two activities are, for many students, their highest accomplishments. Tier two activities include being the varsity soccer captain, earning an all-state selection for band, winning the regional science fair, or becoming president of debate club. These achievements are impressive and establish your skills, dedication, and leadership. Having two or three tier two activities on your application will really help you stand out.
  • Finally, tier one activities demonstrate the highest level of achievement. These involve truly extraordinary accomplishments. Being a nationally ranked tennis player, earning a spot at a highly prestigious summer program, or being an INTEL talent search finalist all could qualify as tier one activities. Few students achieve tier one level accomplishments, which makes this sort of exceptional accomplishment likely to catch admissions committees’ attention.


Most of the activities that we list in this post will span tiers two through four. Remember that your goal, as a student interested in competitive business programs, should be to move each of your activities “up” the tiers through the course of your high school career. Below, you’ll also see a few examples of how you can achieve higher tiers in some of the activities we list!



Extracurriculars for High Schoolers Interested in Studying Business

With these tiers in mind, we’ll go through some specific extracurriculars that you can consider to help you achieve your business dreams. If you’re interested in studying business, you’ll want to choose extracurriculars that demonstrate skills in economics, data analysis, and leadership. 


Here are some clubs that can showcase these skills and qualities:


  • Business Professionals of America
  • Economics Club
  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Future Investors Club
  • Investment Club
  • School Store
  • Stock Market Club
  • Wall Street Club
  • Women in Business
  • Young Entrepreneurs Club


There are also numerous competitions and honors societies that can support the growth of aspiring business students:


  • The National Economics Challenge hosted by the Council for Economic Education is an annual competition with rounds covering microeconomics, macroeconomics, international and current events, and critical thinking. Awards include cash prizes, trophies, and medals. Strong placement in this challenge could qualify as a tier two or three activity, and can demonstrate that you’re able and eager to put your economics knowledge to use.
  • The National Business Honor Society, an official division of the National Business Education Association, is open to any high school junior or senior who has completed or is enrolled in his or her third business course and has a 3.0 overall and 3.5 business course GPA. Joining can highlight your interest, commitment, and the depth of your business coursework and knowledge. If you take on a leadership position, this could be a tier three activity; if you ultimately ascend to the club’s highest leadership position, this could be a tier two activity.
  • DECA, formerly known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America, is a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare “emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.” With over 200,000 members, the organization hosts annual leadership summits, competitive events, and educational conferences. Taking on a leadership role or achieving some success in DECA’s competitions could qualify as a tier three activity; if you take on the highest level of leadership within your school’s DECA organization, this could be a tier two activity.
  • Future Business Leaders of America, the largest student business career organization in the world, offers leadership development programs, academic competitions, and community service opportunities. Its national awards program hosts competitive events in a broad range of business and career-related areas at the state and national level. If you achieve above-average performance in these competitive events, or if you take on a leadership role within your school’s club, FBLA would likely be a tier three activity for you. Strong placement in national- or state-level competitions or holding the top leadership position within FBLA at the school level could qualify this as a tier two activity. 


As we’ve discussed above, your extracurricular profile can showcase your character, values, interests, and dedication. We’ve compiled this list to help you get started as you brainstorm extracurriculars that can jumpstart your business aspirations. However, extracurricular selection is a highly personal process, which should be driven by both your passions and goals. If you are passionate about your extracurriculars, this will likely shine through in your increased involvement, success, and leadership, which will move that activity’s categorization “up” in our tier system. 

We believe that every student deserves access to expert guidance as they embark on their college journey, which is why we created CollegeVine as a way of leveling the playing field. Combining state-of-the-art technology with the latest data, we can offer insight into every step of the college application process. Ready to get more support on your college journey? Call today or subscribe to our email list.


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.