Extracurricular Activities


Why Extracurricular Activities?

While academic achievement is at the very top of the criteria the UCs consider, the majority of the UCs also pay close attention to applicant achievements outside of the classroom. Given how competitive the top UCs are, extracurricular activities are also a way for you to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Make sure you balance your school work with your extracurricular activities during the school year and plan ahead for summer activities but NEVER sacrifice your grades for extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activities encompass anything you do outside of the school. As long as you have devoted time and excelled in what you do, it doesn’t matter if you are a cheerleader, a school club secretary, the student body president, the church choir lead, the youth orchestra flute section leader, the state yo-yo champion, a homeless shelter volunteer, a barista at the local coffee shop, or in charge of taking care of your six siblings while your parents work five different jobs. Competitive UCs generally like to see applicants with demonstrated leadership potential, and the best way to do this is by describing your academic and/or extracurricular achievements in your UC Application.

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What is Leadership?

So what exactly is leadership? This is how the UCLA Alumni Scholarship Program defines it:

Individual Leadership Qualities

Group Leadership Qualities

You don’t need to achieve EVERY quality, but be sure to MENTION every quality you did achieve in your UC Application!


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Activities and Programs

Below is a selection of activities and programs I have come across over the years. Broaden your search beyond the internet; check with your high school career center for local opportunities and browse the library reference section for guidebooks on summer programs and internship opportunities.

Ideally, you should pick two to three areas of interest (in case some don’t pan out, there are couple of backups) and make long-term commitments (three to four years) in three to five extracurricular activities. Development of leadership skills in your extracurricular activities is essential.


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Community Service and Volunteering

You can search for volunteer opportunities using the vetted volunteer matching service providers below. Sign up to receive email notifications when volunteer opportunities in the areas you are interested in become available. Most of these are national listings with opportunities in every interest area you can imagine.


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Educational Preparation Programs

You may have heard about “educational preparation programs” and the UC Application even has a section for them. So what are educational preparation programs?

Well, according to the UCs, educational preparation programs are “programs or activities that have enriched your academic experiences or helped you to prepare for college. Such programs may provide information, counseling, tutoring or other service or offer academic enrichment, research opportunities or special study opportunities, such as study abroad.”

Below is a list of the educational preparation programs that are available to high school students. Look for them at your school and do your best to participate in them.

UC Berkeley
UC Davis
UCLA
UC Merced
UCSF
UC Santa Cruz
All UCs
Most UC and CSU campuses
Other Options Available Throughout California
Other Options Available Nation-Wide


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Internships

Most large companies will post internship opportunities on their company website. If you are interested in a particular profession, you may also consider calling businesses in your neighborhood and inquiring about internship opportunities.

Here are some resources and ideas to help you get started with your internship search:


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Summer Programs

Most of the summer programs listed below are academic in nature:

UC Berkeley
UC Davis
UC Irvine
UCLA
UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Cruz
First-Tier Universities Outside the UC System
Need-Based Financial Assistance Available
Free Summer Learning Experiences
Additional Summer Program Resources

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Other Ideas

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