Wednesday’s Parent: Adding the extras


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to parentscountdowntocollegecoach and vice versa.


Paul Hemphill, a successful college counselor and the Video College Advisor knows the importance of extracurriculars:

“Getting into college is now all about presentation. As a student you’re like a little brown box with thousands in front of you and behind you and you all look the same. You need to put a ribbon around your little brown box. Ribbonize your sameness!”

How your student packages himself will make the difference and that difference could be all about the extras—the ribbon on the box is your student’s extra activities outside the realm of academics. As I have said often, it’s not a pumped up list of activities to stack the resume. It’s the extras that set your student apart from other applicants and culminate with an offer of admission.

extracurricularsWhat are the extras?

Extras, or extracurricular activities, are what students occupy their time with outside of studying and taking tests. These activities can be school sponsored activities, community service, church sponsored service, a part-time job, or even personal hobbies and talents. The list is endless but it should represent who your student’s goals and interests.

Why are the extras important?

Colleges are looking for well-rounded students. Colleges aren’t looking for students who bury their faces in books, hide out in their dorm rooms, and hibernate in the library. They need students who will contribute to their student population and participate in activities on campus. A student with hobbies and interests, communicate organization skills and multi-tasking qualities—both of these are needed with the added difficulty and challenges in college.

How do students determine which extras to choose?

Here’s where you can help—encourage them to participate in activities that interest them. Pushing them to run for student council or campaign for school president if this is not their area of interest will not end well. You know your student better than anyone else. What interests them? What do they like to do? What types of sports are they involved in? Do they like to serve others at church or in the community? Asking these questions will help you guide your student as they determine their interests.

How do students package the extras?

Consistency is key when approaching extracurriculars. College admissions officers can spot a stacked resume a mile away. When they see a student who has done the same activities for four years they take notice. And when they see an unusual activity, the application goes to the top of the pile quickly. This is a ribbon on the brown box. Starting and maintaining a small business while in high school, participating in local politics and training guide dogs are examples of these “outside of the box” activities.

The extras are just the beginning of your student’s life of discovery. These extras shape their academic futures and their future careers. Knowing what they want will help them stay on track in college and find a job in their area of interest after graduation.

As always, Wendy (POCSMom) adds her expertise and her unique perspective on adding the extras–don’t miss her take on the topic!

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One Response to “Wednesday’s Parent: Adding the extras”

  1. […] Read on for Suzanne’s terrific tips about adding the extras. […]