While colleges might seek to make you a well-rounded person once you’re on campus, they aren’t necessarily looking for a membership to every high school club and sport on your resume.

What are colleges looking for in a prospective student? While every college differs some on their ideal student, most colleges now want to see passion, motivation, and experience for a specific field or interest. Check out these tips for investing your time well in high school.

well-roundedChoose quality over quantity.

In an article for College Board, the dean of admission for the University of Tulsa shares what he’s looking for in a college application. He doesn’t mention being well-rounded, rather he starts off by talking about the importance of quality over quantity. Colleges don’t care if you joined every activity your school or community offered. They would rather see that you chose a few activities where you truly invested your time and energy.

Stick with it.

Once you pick an extracurricular activity, stick with it. It’s OK if you don’t do the same thing all four years of high school, but do try to stay involved for at least a year or two to show you really care and were involved. It looks better to have been involved in one activity for all of high school than six activities for only a few months each. While being a well-rounded person is an excellent pursuit, don’t let it come at the cost of genuine interest and involvement.

well-roundedDo what you love.

Building a resume doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – be a chore. Pick activities that you enjoy and love doing. If you love what you’re doing, you’ll be more motivated to participate and invest yourself fully. Also don’t be afraid to get involved with activities that are a little out of the box. If sports aren’t your thing or you hate being onstage, do something else. Colleges aren’t looking to see that you check off stereotypical activity boxes; they want to see the real, unique you. Your college application is where you can go all out bragging on yourself, so give yourself opportunities to show them what you love.

Seek out leadership opportunities.

Anyone can join a club, participate in an activity, or attend meetings. Colleges want to see that you stand out, that you are a leader who will continue to lead on campus. If you want to lead well, you can’t spread yourself thin. Good leaders are fully committed with their time, passion, and talents. Lead in your areas of expertise and talent rather than trying to be the most well-rounded leader.

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Well-rounded vs. focused experience? It looks like picking a few passions wins this round. While well-roundedness is definitely important, don’t get caught up in packing your resume with a million activities. Instead, focus on what you love and invest your time wisely. For more tips, check out our seven steps for college readiness!

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