Extracurriculars for High Schoolers Interested in Studying Political Science
Political science majors can find employment in a wide range of fields, from journalism and law to marketing, education, and even politics. Still, competition remains high for admission to top poli-sci schools. If your goal is to earn your degree at a selective public or private college, you need to take steps to improve your applicant profile while you’re still in high school. To that end, the most desirable students possess excellent grades and test scores, solid letters of recommendation, and a wide range of extracurricular activities.
When choosing which extracurriculars to pursue in high school, it’s important to think about your long-term academic goals. To that end, aspiring poli-sci majors may want to consider activities related to law and government. However, if you’re including an EC on your application, make sure you’ve devoted significant time and energy to it throughout your high school career. Most colleges are looking for students who can commit to a hobby or activity and develop their skills over time. If you only attended one meeting of the debate club, you should probably leave it off your application.
While dedication is important when it comes to extracurriculars, students and parents should note that some activities are more impressive than others in the eyes of admissions officers. Read on to learn about the different tiers of extracurricular activities and which ones are most likely to get you into your dream school.
4 Tiers of Extracurricular Activities
With top colleges putting a greater emphasis on extracurriculars, many high school students are wondering how best to divvy up their schedules. At CollegeVine, we find it helpful to break down extracurricular activities into four categories: tier one, tier two, tier three, and tier four.
Tier one includes extracurriculars that very few applicants can boast, such as winning a national contest or starring in a Broadway musical. These activities make a strong impression on admissions officers, in part because they’re so uncommon. The next highest category, tier two features activities that distinguish students from their peers. Sample ECs in this group include serving as debate club president or editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.
Although tier three activities are slightly less prestigious, they can still go a long way toward helping students gain entry to their dream schools. These extracurriculars include winning an award at the state level or holding a lower position in a club, such as student council treasurer. Star athletes may also be included in this group. Finally, tier four activities are the most common and range from playing JV sports to writing for the literary magazine. Including these activities on your college application is a great way to showcase your personality and interests while revealing your willingness to commit to favorite hobbies
Extracurricular Ideas for Aspiring Poli-Sci Majors
Wondering what extracurricular activities to pursue as a political science major? While there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to ECs, the following clubs and organizations may make a positive impression on college admissions committees:
Clubs and Activities
- Criminal Justice Club
- Debate Team
- Law Club
- Mock Trial
- School newspaper/political blogging
- Volunteering for a local political campaign
Ideal for students with a passion for politics, Coalition Z is a national club designed for and led by the youth of America. The peer-to-peer network connects high school and college students with elected officials and progressive organizations with a goal of engaging young people in politics and bringing about change. Currently, the organization is working on the following six initiatives: #WeToo, Environment, Take Back the House, Voting Rights, Civil Discourse, and Youth Cabinets, which aim to bring young voices into the conversation.
Junior State of America
Created by and for young people interested in politics, government, and community, JSA is offered on high school campuses around the country. Through Civic Education and Engagement, the organization strives to teach leadership and critical thinking while encouraging students to promote the public good. JSA is completely student-run and student-led, meaning students organize all aspects of the group – from chapters to state and national levels. Students in JSA plan and execute conventions, conferences, and political-awareness events. In particular, the organization is committed to encouraging activism. Goals include fighting apathy, holding political fairs, registering new voters, and increasing midterm voting rates.
Students who participate in Model Congress act like representatives and senators in order to solve challenges and learn parliamentary procedure. The longest running program of its kind in the U.S., Model Congress helps students learn research skills, public speaking, negotiation, and more. During the multi-day conference, participants can expect to engage in writing bills, voting on legislation, and running for leadership. Learn more about this activity on the CollegeVine blog.
Model United Nations
This activity invites high schoolers to gather together and simulate UN proceedings. During regular meetings throughout the year, participants will hone their skills in diplomacy, negotiation, public speaking, and other skills crucial to politics and other careers. Additionally, they’ll have the opportunity to simulate a UN General Assembly. The goal is to discuss and debate important issues facing people around the globe and work with “allies” to draft resolutions. Learn more about why Model UN is the ideal EC for poli-sci and international relations majors.
We the People Club
Created by the Center for Civic Education, We the People hosts state and national mock congressional hearing competitions for American high school students. During national finals, students testify as constitutional experts with History and Poli-sci professors serving as the panel of judges acting as congressional committees.
Youth and Government
Sponsored by the Y, Youth and Government invites high school students from around the country to participate in state-organized, model government and shape public policy. Members have the opportunity to serve as state delegates, debate issues affecting their state, and to propose and discuss bills on the floor of the legislature. The goal is to train future public servants while prioritizing policy over politics.
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