Extracurricular activities have long provided a way to stand out and broaden horizons beyond the school gates. But with competition for top university places growing, they’re now essential to securing a spot in further education – and navigating the job market that awaits. From short summer accelerators to ongoing programmes, there are plenty of ways students can bolster their CV, while also building critical self-confidence along the way.
The benefits of broadening horizons
Demonstrating leadership, commitment and giving a much-needed insight into a student’s personality, extracurricular activities are a must for UCAS applications, US college admissions and even job interviews. But the benefits go far beyond personal statements. Studies have shown they can boost overall academic performance, honing attributes like resilience that can come in handy across the board.
Improving social skills and self-esteem are also a significant plus, as well as having the opportunity to discover new passions and diversifying interests to ensure a broad, well-informed world view. Something students will need more than ever, in an increasingly globalised market.
So what to take up?
Alongside personal interests and team pursuits – whether that’s playing sports, learning extra languages or joining an orchestra – extracurricular activities can take many forms. Students could start their own podcast or set up a new business – there are plenty of start-up accelerator programmes designed for young entrepreneurs that can help with this.
For those sixth form students who already know what they want to study, there are lots of introductory courses at universities to try, with a range of summer placements at top institutions to choose from. While interdisciplinary programmes like Winchester College’s Catalyst are a great way to develop vital critical thinking skills – and hear from a wide range of subject-matter experts.
At Figtree, we’ve built a network of tutors and educational consultants from all walks of academic and professional life. Creative writers, talented linguists, lawyers and leaders of industry provide targeted mentoring and support to help build an extracurricular programme that both chimes with existing interests, and challenges students to explore new areas.
To really reap the benefits, students should look to foster long-term passions across multiple projects. Universities are looking to see ongoing commitment and growth, and with programmes for students of all ages, it’s never too early to start.
You can find more information about Winchester College’s Catalyst programme here or simply get in touch with the Figtree team for more advice and personalised recommendations.