Ask a College Advisor: Is It Too Late for Me to Start High School Extracurriculars?

Learn from one of our education professionals about how to choose meaningful extracurriculars later in high school.

portrait of Lonnie Woods III
by Lonnie Woods III

Published on June 1, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Ask a College Advisor: Is It Too Late for Me to Start High School Extracurriculars?
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Question: Is it too late for me to start high school extracurriculars?

Answer: Getting involved in extracurriculars should be an organic manifestation of your true passions, interests, and personality. If you are well into your senior year of high school, it might be too late to pursue extracurriculars for college application purposes, but it's never too late to develop new hobbies and foster new passions.

Colleges like to see you be involved in high school over time, so the earlier you start preparing for college and engaging in extracurriculars, the better. Admissions reps use your involvement in high school as a factor to predict how you will fit into their college environment.

When Should I Start Extracurriculars?

When doing admissions work, I always like to get an understanding of what a prospective student is passionate about outside of school. Being involved in extracurriculars is the perfect way to illustrate this. For me, it is quality over quantity. I am impressed if the one or two clubs on someone's resume paint an authentic picture of who they are, what they believe in, and how they like to spend their time.

I would suggest beginning to test your interests in the ninth grade by joining a club or organization at your school that you are interested in. Then, in your sophomore year, you will be more informed about what you like so you can solidify your extracurricular interests moving forward.

Not Interested in Anything Offered at Your School?

Limited options at your school shouldn't stop you from getting involved in extracurriculars. If you are interested in a cause or topic that your school does not provide an outlet for, consider starting a club yourself. Or find an organization in your local community to get involved with. This shows your ability to take initiative and demonstrates that you can engage with diverse audiences outside of school.

Still not sure where to start? Speak with your guidance counselor, teachers, parents, and other students to get an idea of what you might want to get involved in. Many schools host student involvement fairs that advertise opportunities early in the year. Community resources like nonprofits, community centers, and local businesses may also offer information about extracurricular opportunities.

Summary

Students should start getting involved in extracurriculars as early as possible in their high school career. However, if you're a junior or a senior, don't be discouraged about trying something new or expanding your extracurriculars. At the end of the day, a year's worth of participation is better than none at all.

If you're a first- or second-year high school student, take some time to reflect on your interests and map out a plan. Whatever you choose, make sure your extracurriculars tie in with your personal, academic, and/or career interests.

Have a Question About College?

In our Ask a College Advisor series, experienced advisors provide an insider look at the college experience by answering your questions about college admissions, finances, and student life.

DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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