Extracurriculars to Consider if You Intend to Study Writing 

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If you’re happiest with a pen in hand, or a laptop beneath your fingers, you might be planning to study writing in college. Whether you aim to be the next great novelist, blogger, teacher, or journalist, majoring in writing can open numerous doors. So, how do boost your chances of getting into school to study it?


As a prospective writing student, it’s not enough to boast strong grades and SAT scores. In particular, competition is high for writing major slots at top schools, and students need to boast impressive applicant profiles if they hope to stand out from the crowd. Increasingly, the most selective private institutions are looking to extracurricular activities as a deciding factor in admissions decisions. Not only do extracurriculars showcase a student’s interests and passions, but they also reveal leadership skills, perseverance, and even strength of character.


From academic clubs to athletics, volunteer work to student government, the extracurriculars you choose can significantly impact your chances of getting into a top college. Moreover, students have to take steps to grow their involvement in these activities if they want to make the best possible impression on admissions committees. Keep reading to learn about the four tiers of extracurriculars and to find out how best to divide your time if you hope to attend your dream school.

4 Tiers of Extracurricular Activities

Colleges break down extracurricular activities into four categories, or tiers. While there’s nothing wrong with pursuing activities you love that don’t relate to your chosen major, carefully curating an extracurricular profile can go a long way toward helping you get accepted. Admissions officers are particularly excited about rarely seen activities and those that indicate a high level of achievement in a given area. In general, the best applicant profiles tend to feature a mix of extracurriculars taken from tiers two through four.


The average applicant is unlikely to participate in many tier one activities. Representing exceptional accomplishments and leadership opportunities, these activities make a strong impression because they aren’t seen very frequently. Tier one extracurriculars include winning a role in a major motion picture or becoming a nationally ranked athlete.


The second most impressive extracurricular falls in to the tier two category. To qualify, an activity must allow students to showcase their leadership. Examples include chairing a committee for the National Honor Society or serving as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. On the other hand, students who aren’t club leaders can earn tier three status if they receive recognition or awards in a given activity. Tier three extracurriculars include being the treasurer of a club or winning an award for playing the violin.


Finally, tier four activities are the most common and tend to make a less significant impression on admissions officers. Participating in debate and playing JV soccer are generally considered tier four activities, and although they aren’t as prestigious as those in tier one, they can still provide colleges with valuable information about who you are as a person.

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We'll help you negotiate a better price from your two favorite colleges. Last year, a few of our students even saved more than $100,000 on the total cost of their education (more than $25,000 per year).

Extracurricular Ideas for Aspiring Writing Majors

Clearly, the extracurriculars you choose as a high school student can have a significant effect on your academic future. So, what activities should students take if they’re interested in studying writing at the college level? Here are some suggested ECs for students looking to stand out as aspiring writing majors:


Creative Writing Club

Journalism Club or School Newspaper

Literary Magazine

Science Fiction Club 

Shakespeare Club 

Slam Poetry 

Spoken Word Poetry

Competitions, Camps, and Honors Societies

National English Honor Society- The only honor society dedicated exclusively to academic excellence in the field of English, NEHS recognizes students for past and current accomplishments in the discipline. Membership is by invitation only, and students need a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify. Participants are eligible for awards, scholarship activities, and more.


Quill and Scroll- A 93-year-old honor society, Quill and Scroll celebrates student journalists from around the world. This prestigious institution recognizes the best works of student journalism in a variety of mediums, including magazines, newspapers, yearbooks, and broadcast. To qualify, students must maintain a B average or be in the upper third of their class. Members have the opportunity to participate in contests and earn scholarships. Learn more about this organization and other resume-building clubs on our blog.


John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest- National contests offer a great opportunity for talented writers to showcase their abilities. One of the most famous annual competitions, the JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contests invites students in grades nine through twelve to submit essays about acts of political courage by political leaders. Winners receive $10,000 along with an impressive addition to their application profiles. Find out more about this contest and others on the CollegeVine blog.


National Novel Writing Month – An annual creative writing activity, NaNoWriMo invites participants to write a complete novel (50,000 words) each year during the month of November. Not only does this event enable students to develop their writing and storytelling skills, but it also demonstrates an ability to commit to a task and work hard to achieve a goal, something college admissions officers value.


We believe that every student deserves access to expert guidance as they embark on their college journey. To that end, we created CollegeVine as a way of leveling the playing field. Combining state-of-the-art technology with the latest data, our counselors help with everything from selecting extracurriculars to choosing target colleges. Ready to get more support on your college journey? Call today or subscribe to our email list online.

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.