Besides being a fun and engaging way to socialize and interact with other high school students, extracurriculars are an extremely important part of your high school record, and their impact on your future college applications is something you should already be keeping in mind.
Your extracurriculars can teach you useful skills, provide leadership opportunities, and allow you to pursue your interests in ways that stretch far beyond the classroom. 11th grade — the last full year of high school you’ll have to show on your college applications — is a particularly significant time for your extracurriculars, and you’ll need to keep a careful eye on how you develop your involvement during this school year.
Interested in learning more about how to strengthen your extracurricular activity resume in 11th grade? Below, we’ll go over what makes 11th grade special, what to expect in 11th grade, and what you should aim for when considering your 11th-grade extracurricular involvement.
What’s so special about extracurriculars in 11th grade?
As you’ve most likely already heard, 11th grade is a very important year for your future college applications. This is true for two reasons.
One reason is that once you reach 11th grade, you have a great deal more experience than you did when you started high school, and your potential for achievement is much higher. With your accumulated experience, you’ll have the opportunity to become a leader, take on additional responsibilities, and perhaps even create lasting change in your school or community.
Your accomplishments during this time period are significant for your personal development, but they’re also highly useful when you apply to college. College applications will require you not only to list your activities, but to detail your involvement in each extracurricular. Your achievements and the roles you take on during your junior year can demonstrate to colleges that you’re dedicated, hardworking, and proactive in pursuit of your passions.
The other factor contributing to the importance of 11th grade to your applications is simply that the timing of the college application process places special emphasis on your junior-year record. Assuming that you’ll fill out your college applications in the fall of 12th grade, 11th grade will be the most recent full academic year for which colleges are able to see your academic and extracurricular performance.
Because 11th grade is quite important, it’s likely to be a busy year for you. Not only will your classes be more challenging, but competition among students for high grades and class rank can get fierce. You’ll also get started in earnest with the process of applying to college, which is no simple task.
If you’re thinking about applying to college through an Early Decision or Early Action program, You’ll need to have a solid resume ready to submit by October of your senior year at the latest.
Keeping on top of your extracurriculars while you manage these other tasks can be difficult, but maintaining and growing your extracurricular involvement is essential during this time. Remember, high grades and test scores alone won’t get you admitted to colleges, especially those with selective and holistic admissions policies.
What can I expect from extracurriculars in 11th grade?
As we mentioned above, once you’re in 11th grade, you can anticipate facing higher expectations from those around you, such as your coaches, advisors, or teammates. You’ll also have higher expectations for yourself. If you made it to the state tournament in tennis last year, for example, maybe this year your goal will be to reach the final round in that tournament. Your coaches or advisors can help you determine what goals are appropriate and how to set goals in a strategic, constructive way.
Meeting these new, higher expectations from yourself and others will take time. Unsurprisingly, you can expect your time commitment to your extracurriculars to increase, especially if you take on greater responsibilities and leadership roles. Between spending time with friends and family, tuitions, and getting a good night’s sleep, your days will be fuller than ever.
The increased time commitment for your extracurriculars, along with the responsibilities of keeping up your grades and starting the college application process, means that you’ll have to develop your time-management skills to a higher degree. There are only so many hours in a day, and you’ll need to use those hours strategically.
Some people find that they need to reduce their total number of extracurricular activities in order to fit them into the available time. Others may decrease their involvement with one activity in order to prioritize another. It’s up to you to decide which of your extracurriculars are the most important — something we’ll address below — and create the right balance.
Overall, you should not be resistant to the idea of reducing your commitments in some area if you feel overwhelmed. Your mental and physical health should always take precedence over academic and extracurricular obligations.
Your school or your guidance counselor may offer resources to help you manage your busy schedule and reduce your stress level as you work toward your college ambitions. Different methods work for different people, so be prepared to try several different paths to find the best one for you.
As you move through 11th grade and strengthen your extracurricular involvement, you can even start thinking about your long-term impact on your activity or organization. Even if you don’t take on a formal leadership title, you may be called upon to coach, manage, and set a good example for younger participants. You’ll have opportunities to shape your club or group and set it up for a successful future, with long-term plans and goals to aim for.
What should I be aiming for in my junior-year extracurriculars?
11th grade is the time to develop and deepen your skills in your extracurriculars. In recent years, colleges have preferred to see applications that are specialized — in other words, applications that display a deep commitment to a few key passions rather than shallow involvement in a large number of different activities.
If you enjoy a particular activity, you might think about also becoming involved in related activities in order to help demonstrate that specialization on your application. For example, if you love performing with the Drama Club, you might also strengthen your skills and your college applications by becoming involved in the local spoken-word poetry group, or become a news presenter for your school’s student news channel.
Obviously, you should take on leadership positions and additional responsibilities when possible. It’s also necessary to take these commitments seriously; they will require your time and effort to do well. Success in leadership positions not only demonstrates that your peers like and respect you, but shows colleges that you’ll have the dedication and the skills to make the most of the more independent opportunities that will become available to you after high school.
For competitive activities, you need to put significant work into analyzing and preparing for competitions. Being a member of the team is far from all that matters, and on your resume and college applications, you’ll be expected to describe what you actually accomplished in as concrete terms as possible. It’s difficult for colleges to place the quality of your extracurricular involvement on an objective scale, but your success in competition offers one small way to quantitatively determine your success.
If your extracurricular activities include athletic involvement, and you’re an especially talented athlete, you’ll need to learn about the athletic recruitment process (if you haven’t already done so) and determine whether it might play a role in your college application process
For any extracurricular, you’ll also need to start thinking about whether and how you plan on continuing that activity in college. Not every college offers every extracurricular, of course, and if you are strongly interested in continuing your involvement past your high school graduation, you’ll need to check the opportunities available at each school before you decide to apply.
In 11th grade, you’ll face not only increased demands on your time and responsibility, but some fantastic opportunities to create change, achieve high-level goals, and make a name for yourself through your extracurriculars. With the help of your counselor, advisors, coaches, Edbrand Mentors, and other supporters, it’s up to you to figure out which extracurricular path to take in order to best prepare you for the future.