How much do extracurriculars matter?

It’s a very common piece of advice that you should try and keep up with a couple of extracurricular activities to give yourself the best chance in life. It certainly seems like good guidance—but how much do extracurriculars really matter?

Extracurricular activities certainly matter a lot in the right circumstances. The right extracurricular in support of the right application could indeed be the deciding factor. However, they aren’t essential and you can very often get by without them. It really depends how you hope to use them.

Extracurriculars matter in the simple sense that you can meet friends and enrich your life through the experiences. They don’t have to be done only in service of applications and ambitions. With that said, let’s see how much difference they can make.

Do extracurriculars really matter?

Extracurriculars matter as they can very often make the difference between the perfect applicant and just someone with good grades or qualifications. However, this question is highly context specific. In some cases they will really matter and will make a big difference—in others, less so – if at all.

Beyond the simple question of whether they matter on paper, though, you’ve got to think about how they might just be inherently valuable. If you get enjoyment out of them, and you’ve got the time to fit them in, then they matter! Also, any kind of extracurricular, whether it’s sports, music, or a hobby or skill, you may well learn something from it that you can apply in your studies or work.

Insofar as they matter to an employer, college, university or other institution, then this will again depend. Whatever course or job you are applying for may well indicate if they consider extracurriculars as a benefit towards an application.

The best general advice is that you shouldn’t take extracurriculars as a whole to always matter. Being a great rugby player probably wouldn’t be all that helpful in an application for an accounting course at a university.

Do grades or extracurriculars matter more?

Grades matter more than extracurriculars, but extracurriculars are used to distinguish between applicants. If you have two applicants with similar academic credentials, the applicant with more impressive extra-curricular activities is likely to get the job.

Do grades or extracurriculars matter more

While extracurriculars are certainly being relied on more heavily today, that is only because high grades are overall more common. The extracurriculars need to be considered to distinguish so many high achieving applicants.

However, clearly you need the grades to be considered in the first place. If you don’t have the grades required for the course you are aiming for, then it’s very unlikely you will be considered on the basis of extracurriculars alone. Even if there wasn’t the issue of the amount of high-achieving applicants for a give course or program, admissions officers need to know you’ve can get the grades they require. Grades matter a great deal more than extracurriculars.

Can you get into top universities without extracurriculars?

While top universities are looking increasingly at extracurriculars to distinguish between applicants with good grades, you can absolutely get in without extracurriculars. The admissions process among different universities can be slightly different, but ultimately the primary thing they are interested in is your academic potential. So, you certainly can get into top universities without extracurricular activities

Top universities still have a wide range of things to consider when differentiating many applicants with high grades. Personal statements are perhaps among the most important after your grades. Beyond that, entry exams and essays are also a good way to get a better idea if a candidate is better qualified or has higher academic potential. All of this will carry most if not all of the weight of an application to a top university—not extracurriculars.

But this still doesn’t mean they are irrelevant in real terms. Again, enriching your mind to a greater number of experiences may well help you achieve the grades you want in a very real way. So, while they are not as important to the university itself, it still doesn’t mean they are totally worthless.

Do Australian universities care about extracurricular?

Unless you are applying for a scholarship, Australian universities on the whole do not care about extracurricular activities and your grades are always going to be the more important thing.

One way to think about is how extracurriculars vs grades can be quantified in your application. Grades are a value, and reflect the precise standard to which you’ve done your work. Equally, exams, essays and other tasks assigned by the admissions office of the university are based on their own metrics and so they can easily understand a candidate’s suitability based on this.

Extracurriculars are not quantifiable in the same way. You might play a lot of sports; you might be in the improv club or art club. It may enrich your life and be valuable in that way, but there’s no direct way that a university can see how that translates to how you might be better qualified for the course. However, if the University thinks that your extra-curricular prowess can improve their position on the playing field or bring acclaim to their University, they may provide you extra opportunities.

But for the general lay person, Australian universities are no different from most universities in the world in this way. Extracurriculars are rarely all that important. In some cases it might make a difference, but it won’t mean much on its own and it’s very unlikely you’ll be rejected to an Australian university on the basis of having no extracurriculars.

Do extracurriculars matter for jobs?

Extracurriculars usually do not matter for jobs on their own, but they can help set you apart from other applicants. They can show your dedication, determination, leadership ability, teamwork and even community involvement which can often show what you would be like in the workplace. If you are a real “go-getter” outside work, you are likely to bring that into the job and approach your work with similar perseverance and enthusiasm.

do employers care about extracurriculars?

For instance, if you want to work for a charity or non-profit organization, then an extracurricular like volunteering could certainly matter.

Extracurriculars such as student government could also be an aid to a job application. Being able to demonstrate proven leadership skills can certainly be a big bonus.

The same basic principle remains, though. Extracurriculars can be a big help, but they cannot stand on their own. The employer will still need to see the relevant experience and qualifications for anything above an entry level position.

Even then, if you can submit a strong application without any extracurriculars, you can get any job you want without them. So, while they do matter, they aren’t essential.

Is it OK to have no extracurriculars?

It is definitely OK to have no extracurriculars, as long as you have strong and consistent grades, academic performance, and any relevant qualifications and experience. Extracurriculars will just give you a competitive edge in an application process, if you are up against people with similar academic or work experience. They might help you get into more competitive roles and as a result lead to a faster rise up the career path. But this is not always the case.

You need to think of extra-cirriculars as a bonus on your application. You can get any university place or job you want. Extracurriculars can be a help in a job or college application in some cases, but it’s very rare that any employer or admissions department will be looking for extracurriculars.

Employment and university admissions are more competitive than ever. However, they are still not quite so competitive that universities have no other way of distinguishing applicants expect through extracurriculars.

A few countries, notably the United States, do place more weight on extracurriculars. If you are applying to an American university, you may find that extracurriculars are more important. Again, though, it’s very unlikely that a strong applicant with good grades and academic performance will be rejected on the basis of a lack of extracurriculars.

Are extracurriculars a waste of time?

Extracurriculars are not a waste of time as they can give you the competitive edge in an application process and more importantly improve your life overall. Remember, your life is not defined by your job or which university you went to. Most people do extracurriculars because they enjoy them, and mostly don’t even necessarily see it as something that will help them in a job or university application.

If you enjoy doing something, it is never a waste of time. By the same token, though, you shouldn’t compel yourself to do an extracurricular that you hate just to give yourself the edge. As I’ve said, it probably won’t make all that much difference, and so you’ve just essentially overworked yourself for no reason.

Your free time is yours to do with as you will. If you find an extracurricular you enjoy, it doesn’t have to be about improving yourself or getting a better job or college place. It can be done for its own sake.

What is the most impressive extracurricular?

The most impressive extracurricular activities tend to be projects where you can show leadership skills and abilities. Certainly in a job application scenario, if you can point to an extracurricular which involved real responsibility for large groups of people and complex activities then this can be very impressive.

what's the most impressive extra curricular

Examples of this could include things like senior editing positions in local or campus newspapers, being the president of a large society, or student government positions. All of these can genuinely be very demanding roles, and the ability to split your time between that and the rest of your life is certainly impressive on résumé.

Another “extracurricular” might be a part-time job you’ve balanced with your studies. In general this is certainly going to be impressive to a job application regardless, but if it is experience that’s relevant to your field this would be even better. Maintaining a work life throughout university will always look good to a prospective employer, though.