6 (fun!) Extra-Curricular Activities to Enhance your CV for University and Job Applications

16 January, 2014

extra-curricular

With so much competition for university places and jobs, it pays to make the most of your free time by using it productively and developing additional skills that will help your university application and CV stand out from the crowd.

The good news is that you can develop many valuable skills and gain lots of experience by taking part in enjoyable extra-curricular activities – and it’s never too early to start! It’s a great way to enhance your applications while having fun. What’s more, involvement in extra-curriculars can give a sense of your personality to an otherwise dry CV. Read on for some inspiration and start using your leisure time to give yourself the best possible start in life.

1. Blogging

Image shows someone typing on a laptop keyboard.

Blogging can be a great way to practise your writing skills.

In the digital age, it’s easier than ever before to get your opinions in front of a wider audience. Whatever your interests, setting up and maintaining a successful blog dedicated to them takes commitment, and admissions tutors and employers recognise that. Running a blog devoted to a subject you’re passionate about is also an excellent way of demonstrating your enthusiasm and actively partaking in discourse on that subject.

If you are applying for university, why not set up a blog on a topic related to the subject you want to study? For instance, if you’re a prospective medical student, you could set up a blog giving your thoughts on the latest medical advances, which would show admissions tutors that you take an active interest in the latest developments, keeping abreast of them and forming and offering your own opinions on them. Similarly, if you want to study geography, you could blog about climate change. Your blog doesn’t have to be about news, though; if you’re keen to study English Literature, for instance, you could start a blog in which you review books you’ve read.

Once you get to beyond university to career level, blogging brings additional benefits to you because it shows that you have an active web presence and teaches you valuable IT skills that you can list on your CV. Many jobs require some degree of IT knowledge, and being able to demonstrate a working knowledge of platforms such as WordPress could set your CV apart from the scores of others applying for the same job.

Setting up a blog is quick, easy and free, and you only need basic computer skills to get started with it.

How to get involved

  • Decide what you want to blog about – it should be something that really interests you, as you’ll write more engagingly if it’s something you enjoy writing about, and you’ll therefore attract more of a following!
  • Register with a free blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger to set up your blog.
  • You can blog as often as you like, but generally, aiming for a minimum of two posts a week will help you build up traffic.
  • Link your blog up with your social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, so that people know each time you’ve added a new post.

Image is a button that reads "Browse all Student Life articles."2. Learning a language

Image shows a neon sign saying 'Foreign Language Bookshop'.

Knowing a foreign language is a valuable life skill.

The benefits of learning another language are widely acknowledged and appreciated, but the advantages it can bring to university applications and CVs alike are particularly strong.

For a university application, taking on an additional language as a hobby indicates your interest in and aptitude for learning, showing admissions tutors that you are a person who is enthusiastic enough about improving your knowledge and skills that you are willing to commit to extra work in your spare time in order to achieve it. What’s more, as admissions tutors will know, additional languages are practical skills that may come in useful when you get to university, allowing you to read, understand and cite academic papers, journals and textbooks in other languages, which may be out of the reach of others in your year group. This puts you at an obvious advantage, because it gives you added knowledge and access to a greater breadth of academic opinion with which to impress tutors and examiners.

The advantages of studying an extra language in your free time don’t end with looking impressive on your university application, or allowing you to excel once you get to university; there are distinct career benefits, too. As well as being another skill to add to your CV, you’ll also have more career opportunities open to you and a better chance of landing a good job. Multinational companies, for instance, often advertise for candidates with an additional language, as employees who can speak two or more languages can be extremely useful for translating materials produced by an office in a different country, as well as facilitating better communications between offices. Another obvious sector in which an extra language is of benefit is the tourism industry, but there are many more.

How to get involved

  • See if your school runs any after-school classes; you may even be able to get an additional qualification, such as a GCSE, by doing it through your school.
  • Look out in your local paper for details of evening classes at local colleges.
  • Alternatively, find out whether there are any private tutors who run classes or one-to-one tuition in your town or city.
  • Invest in an audio language course for your MP3 player.
  • Buy a good language course book and work your way through it.
  • If you can, book a trip to a country that speaks the language you’re learning – it’ll help spur you on to learn more, and consolidate what you’ve learned by forcing you into conversations in your new language.

3. Volunteering and fundraising

Image shows a blue piggy bank with some coins in front of it.

Fundraising and volunteering are great ways to improve your job prospects while doing something for other people.

As well as giving something back to the community, volunteering and fundraising are good ways of developing a range of skills necessary for success in life – and they strengthen university and job applications, too. Charity work tells university admissions tutors that you’re someone who contributes to society and who is therefore likely to get involved in the university community. For employers, it demonstrates valuable business skills, such as communication and ‘people skills’, teamwork and so on. In the process, you’ll have the opportunity to make new friends and feel a warm glow knowing that you’re helping a good cause.

Many charities offer fundraising opportunities that involve you raising sponsorship to take on an incredible challenge; the London Marathon is one of the most famous examples, but this opportunity to walk the Inca Trail for charity, run by Breast Cancer Care, is just one of many others that enable you to travel. Such schemes are an excellent way of benefiting from a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the same time as helping a worthy cause. You’ll have to use your ingenuity to raise the necessary funds, and that’s another benefit to your CV – raising money for charity requires very similar skills to making money in business. You might even be inspired to go into fundraising as a career!

How to get involved

  • Pick a charity that’s meaningful to you and contact them offering your services.
  • If you’re not sure what you want to do, visit Volunteering England for some inspiration.
  • Google “travel for charity” to find out more about the travel opportunities that may be open to you.

4. Coding and other web skills

Image shows someone coding Python in a candlelit restaurant.

One day, you may find yourself coding Python over a candlelit dinner.

There’s a shortage of IT skills at the moment, and as such, developing knowledge of anything web-related is sure to stand you in good stead for your future career. You could pursue coding, web design, online marketing or anything else that takes your fancy – but whatever you do, any web skills you can develop in your spare time are excellent additions to your CV and will enhance your future career prospects. You can choose to undertake formal training in a particular IT skill, or just develop your skills by yourself simply by getting stuck in and building a website from scratch and referring to other websites for advice. You never know when this knowledge will become useful, and it goes without saying that if you’re a prospective computer sciences student, such activities are a must.

How to get involved

  • Sign up for an after-school IT class, if your school runs one.
  • Build your own website and learn as you go along (WordPress.org and Moonfruit offer easy-to-use, free platforms).
  • Codecademy is a good resource for learning to code in your spare time.

5. Sports

Image shows someone in a red hoodie firing an arrow at an archery target.

The sports you did at school may not have interested you, but you might find your passion by looking further afield.

While the direct benefits to your university application and CV are perhaps less obvious than the other extra curricular activities we’ve looked at so far, there are still advantages to be gained from taking part in a sport.

Here are some of the transferrable skills you’ll pick up and be able to demonstrate from involvement in a sport:

  • Teamwork – an obvious one perhaps, but being part of a sports team clearly demonstrates your ability to work effectively with other people, something that will come in useful both for group academic work at university and for the office beyond.
  • Self-discipline – excelling at any sport requires discipline and commitment, skills that are also required to succeed within both the academic and office environments.
  • Reliability – you need to turn up on time for your sports sessions, demonstrating that you can also be trusted to turn up on time for lectures and tutorials, and beyond that, work.
  • Motivation – you’ll have to be motivated to maintain involvement in sports at any level, and needless to say, if you rise through the ranks to become a sports captain, the leadership skills you’ll develop through having to organise and motivate your team will prove invaluable for your future career.

The bonus is that on top of all that, you’ll also keep fit and healthy, which will help boost your productivity levels!

How to get involved

  • School is probably your best bet for getting involved in a sport, so ask your P.E. teacher for advice if you’re still at school.
  • There will also be sports teams in your local area that you could try out for, so check your local paper or community website for details of who to contact.
  • Your local leisure centre may also be a good place to look for groups to get involved with, so check their noticeboard as well.

6. Play in an orchestra or music group

Black and white image shows a piano next to a window.

Music can be a sociable or a solitary pursuit, showing you have the skills to work in a team or the ability to motivate yourself without needing external encouragement.

Just like sports, playing in an orchestra is a great way of demonstrating transferrable skills such as teamwork and self-discipline. But mastering a musical instrument reflects more than just that. Musicians are creative people and need a great deal of intelligence (emotional and analytical) to bring to life the notes on a page and interpret what the composer wanted. A creative mind is a valuable asset in an academic context because it helps you to approach problems from a fresh perspective, while creativity is much sought-after in many careers because it’s what helps drive a business forward. To develop your creativity, another exciting musical possibility is joining a jazz group, as these often feature large amounts of improvisation.

How to get involved

  • You’ll obviously need to be able to play a musical instrument to play in an orchestra, but there are orchestras that cater for pretty much every level of competence – and they don’t all require you to do an audition.
  • Your school should be able to point you in the direction of someone who can help you begin music lessons for your chosen instrument, if you don’t already play one.
  • If your school doesn’t have an orchestra or other music group, there will almost certainly be some in your local area, so try Googling and see what you find.
  • If playing a musical instrument isn’t your thing, you could try a choir instead. Again, there are choirs that cater for all levels of experience and you won’t always have to audition. They’re not all focused on classical music either, so don’t worry if the thought of that doesn’t appeal to you; increasing numbers of choirs now focus on modern repertoire, performing choral versions of popular songs. Let’s call it ‘the Glee effect’!

Can you think of any other extra-curricular activities that could help enhance your university and job applications? We’d love to hear them, so let us know in the comments below if you think we’ve missed any great ideas!






 

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Image credits: banner; blogger; bookshop; piggy bank; programming;  archery; piano

37 Responses to “6 (fun!) Extra-Curricular Activities to Enhance your CV for University and Job Applications”

  1. January 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm, Maryam Hashim said:

    These activities look really enjoyable to me I am a girl who participate in all extra curricular and I had always won some thing from those activities . Some people thought that extra curricula’s are useless but in future they are very helpful.

    Reply

  2. June 08, 2015 at 1:40 pm, Isha said:

    Can journal writing ( on weird experiments and why Pluto is dwarf planet?) be useful to enhancing CV?

    Reply

    • June 08, 2015 at 2:38 pm, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Isha,

      Absolutely! There’s a shortage of people who are both capable scientists and good writers, so this kind of practice has the potential to be very valuable.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  3. June 16, 2015 at 10:18 am, Eugenia said:

    If I played the violin in te conservatoire for several years, but nowadays just play it in my own time, not at a professional level, is it also worth mentioning in the personal statement? Oh, and if i can speak several languages but haven’t passed official exams, is it still valid?Thank you!

    Reply

    • June 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Eugenia,

      These are both things that you certainly could mention in your personal statement, especially if they are relevant to the subject you are applying for. Obviously you will only have limited room in your personal statement, so you need to prioritise whatever you think is most relevant or impressive; I would not rule these things out from your consideration.

      Regards,

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  4. June 29, 2015 at 8:22 am, Iaza said:

    Hi,
    Thank you for posting all of these ideas – they have been really useful! I was just wondering, if I want to be a medical student, what can my website be about if I built one? Thank You

    Reply

    • June 29, 2015 at 9:54 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Iaza,

      That depends on where your interests lie. You could provide revision notes and tips for other prospective medical students. You could write a blog about all the latest medical innovations around the world. Or you could do something a little more unusual, e.g. looking at the effects of government policy on public health. These are just a few ideas; it depends on what you would prefer to research and write about.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  5. July 12, 2015 at 8:56 am, Rija said:

    Will doing a lot of things in many different fields come across as unfocused?

    Reply

    • July 13, 2015 at 10:21 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Rija,

      That depends on where you’re applying. It would be fine in a US university application, but might not be appropriate for a UK application (though you can discuss whatever seems most relevant at interview). See here for more on the differences between UK and US university applications. As for a job application, it’s fine to have a diverse range of interests. What might be off-putting is if you seem dilettantish, picking a hobby for a bit and then dropping it again. If you show commitment to a variety of fields, that will be an asset.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  6. August 09, 2015 at 3:56 pm, Nigel said:

    Hi,
    I am currently studying my degree in a top 20 university (QS ranking). I want to pursue my Masters in a more prestigious university for example the Oxbridge. One of my plans is learning a classical musical instrument(violin). Will that really help in my application? Thank you.

    Reply

    • August 17, 2015 at 9:30 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Nigel,

      At postgraduate level, your extracurriculars will have very little impact. You would be much better off focusing on getting the best grades in your undergraduate degree that you can, as well as gaining any other academic distinctions that you can, such as publications in student journals. That’s not to say you shouldn’t learn the violin for your own enjoyment, but it won’t help you with university applications at your level.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

      Reply

      • August 18, 2015 at 8:48 am, Nigel said:

        >
        Dear ORA Admin,

        Thank you very much for the enlightenment. Sounds like the things I should do are more on theory than practical activities like volunteering work, societies, etc? Thus I should start reading more academic journal articles to expand my knowledge and understanding of my course, get good grades, write a good dissertation,etc right?
        As a second-year Economics student, may I know what else can I do or prepare to achieve those academic distinctions?
        Thank you.

        Reply

        • August 18, 2015 at 9:12 am, ORA Admin said:

          Dear Nigel,

          That’s exactly right. Involvement with societies, volunteering or even part-time work will be beneficial for future employment, but not of interest to anyone assessing your application for postgraduate study. I recommend talking to your current tutors to see what they would recommend in terms of ways in which yo could push yourself further. They will probably be very happy to help.

          Best wishes,

          The ORA Team

          Reply

  7. September 02, 2015 at 6:49 am, jaya said:

    I’m only in high school but if I choose to become a medical student what extra curricular activities will stand out? Also if I volunteer at a new hospital every year for three years will that be considered unfocused or determined?

    Reply

    • September 03, 2015 at 9:33 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Jaya,

      It looks like you’re not located in the UK. We can provide some advice on applying for Medicine in the UK, but that won’t necessarily be correct for other countries. Assuming you are looking at studying in the UK, as an applicant for Medicine you should worry less about extra-curricular activities and more about super-curricular activities – for instance, volunteering in hospitals is already a great start! Here’s our guide to medical school applications, which you may find useful.

      As regards your second question, that depends entirely on why you’re doing it and how you present that in your personal statement. If you are going to different hospitals in order to gain experience of different working environments, different specialisms and different ways of doing things, then that’s excellent and will be impressive to admissions tutors. If, on the other hand, you’re chopping and changing because you’re bored, that will be less impressive. Try not to think about it in terms of how they might seem to the admissions tutor, but instead do whatever you think will make you a better medical student.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  8. September 11, 2015 at 5:12 pm, Annie said:

    What other stuff is out there for youngsters like dofe. But I didn’t get into dofe so what alternatives are there?

    Reply

  9. September 14, 2015 at 9:15 am, Aarushi Vijay said:

    I am aspiring for top 10 universities for computer science engineering and I have an interest in IT field . I don’t have any such brilliant or outstanding extra curriculars, but now realising it too late as I have only a year with me; I have started working on android. I have planned to learn C, I know Java. Following your advice I will start blogging. Can you help me out on what topic should I blog?
    So what else do you think I should do to enhance my extracurriculars for MIT?
    Thank you

    Reply

    • September 14, 2015 at 10:02 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Aarushi,

      It sounds like you’re thinking of all the right things! One possible blog topic could be charting what you’re learning when you’re picking up new programming languages. You could tell your readers about what you found difficult and share tips for overcoming problems.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  10. October 29, 2015 at 2:44 pm, Lucie said:

    For economics, what are some good extracurricular activities i can do in order to enhance my CV? I was never into sports or any musical instruments etc. I’m worried that my CV will not be as strong and is there a chance to get rejected by any of the top 10 universities due to the lack of extra curricular activities?

    Reply

    • November 03, 2015 at 10:33 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Lucie,

      While it is true that universities do value extracurricular activities in applications, we would recommend taking part in activities that appeal to you as it is important that you enjoy them as well. Perhaps you could consider some of the other activities outlined in the article, such as blogging or volunteering and fundraising? Additionally, you may find it useful to talk to a teacher or careers advisor at your school. You may find our article ‘Are you thinking of studying Economics?’ helpful for more information about studying economics.

      Best of Luck!

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  11. December 10, 2015 at 7:34 am, Eshani said:

    Hi,
    I am a Chartered Accountant currently working at an MNC. I am interested in participating in extra curricular activities. I am not so sure what to get involved in since I am a working professional. Please suggest.

    Reply

  12. December 10, 2015 at 9:41 pm, Yasmine Belhajji said:

    Would IB be considered an extra-curricular activity since it is an optional course? I am hoping to get my IB HL certificate this year and it would be great if this were considered an extra curricular activity. I am from the Netherlands and I would love to study at and ivy league university, especially the faculty of law at Oxford University. Unfortunately I seem to lack extra-curriculars. I do play football and it is my dream to play professionally but I don’t think that this is enough to get into a university like Oxford. I am still trying to get a scholership/sponsership but I come from the south of the Netherlands and there are not many oppurtunities regarding Football. Do you have any advice for me?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    Kind regards, Yasmine

    Reply

  13. December 17, 2015 at 9:33 pm, Ursila said:

    Hi, I’m 15 and am currently in Year 11, I want to become a medical student, I don’t do any sports or play an instrument, are there any alternatives you could suggest, that would still look good on applications?

    Reply

  14. April 01, 2016 at 11:10 pm, Keiran said:

    Hi, I’m in year 11 at the moment but I realised my achievements other than my grades are a bit lacking and I want to do more before I apply for Oxbridge. I want to study law and I was planning on doing some temping at a solicitor’s firm and also watching some trials in magistrate’s court. Will a blog help? What else can I do?

    Reply

  15. April 12, 2016 at 8:57 pm, Ellie said:

    Hey I am 15 and thinking of studying veterinary science at university. I was wondering what specific activities would help me to get onto this course, and also what subject could I write a blog about? Thanks!

    Reply

    • April 14, 2016 at 9:57 am, ORA Admin said:

      Dear Ellie,

      Thank you for your comment. Volunteering at a local veterinary surgery would be a great thing to do both for your own experience and to look good on you application. Additionally, reading up on the world of Veterinary Science or subscribing to a magazine to keep yourself informed could be beneficial too. We also have the following article in the ORA archives that you will definitely find interesting: Are you thinking of studying Veterinary Medicine?.

      I hope this helps!

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

      Reply

  16. April 19, 2016 at 2:13 pm, Unkown said:

    I am 12 years old and I want to do economic studies when I grow up. I am already learning classical Indian dance, will it help for my CV

    Reply

  17. May 11, 2016 at 4:04 am, Ashish said:

    For someone pursuing field of finance, how does IT help?
    i wont be programming, right?

    Reply

    • October 31, 2016 at 12:41 pm, Ashvith said:

      > Instead , I’ll suggest you to be a geek .You cannot be fooled by someone , who thinks you are a no-geek and in some situations like virus attack or phishing , being a geek is better that learning programming language.

      Reply

  18. May 20, 2016 at 8:04 am, Coffee Magaya said:

    Im studying medicine but finance is my passion is there a way of linking the two. are there cereers prospects for such a combination.

    Reply

  19. November 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm, Mahbuba said:

    What should i include regarding my hobbies or interests for personal statement of phd in political science?

    Reply

  20. November 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm, Stephane Ellis said:

    Hello. Thank you for this article.
    I currently do not play any instruments but have played the piano in the past.
    Do you think that starting to play the piano again would help me for University applications when I apply in about one year and a half? I wouldn’t play in an orchestra. Am I better off focusing more on school work instead? Of course, I doubt that undertaking a musical activity would do anything bad to my application.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  21. January 15, 2017 at 5:20 pm, sezen said:

    Hi, I’m currently in year 10 and want to study medicine or anything science related later on when I move onto university. I don’t play any sports but used to play different instruments but now have stopped. I was wondering if colleges or universities would ask for any sort of proof or evidence for this like a certificate or any sort.

    Reply

  22. January 26, 2017 at 9:15 pm, Mahima said:

    Hi,

    What activities should I pursue to have a good chance at economics at oxford or other prestigious uni?

    Thanks.

    Reply

  23. February 22, 2017 at 7:53 am, Charu Grover said:

    Hey! I am pursuing law in an Indian University. I do a bunch of extra curricular and co curricular activities. Can achieving a degree in fine arts or a short course in my area of interest in fine arts, be a boost to my CV for pursuing LLM from US/UK?

    Reply

  24. May 24, 2017 at 3:16 pm, Anonymous. said:

    Hi. I was wondering if universities care about the amount of blog traffic you’ve got. I mean, we could start a blog and everything, but to promote it and get people to read it, we need to market it and upgrade to paid premium offers.
    So what if one can’t get the required traffic on their blog?

    Reply

  25. July 08, 2017 at 6:00 am, Zarin Anzoom said:

    Hi,
    I’m a student who’s about to graduate from high school next year. I’m planning to apply to universities as an undergraduate student. I wanna major in CSE and IT study fields. But I have technically NO EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY. So can you suggest me what extra curricular activity would be preferable and amusing in case of my Major? Also, is blogging in wattpad count as a considerable extra curricular activity? I’ll get a very short time to create one after my high school result so I’m preparing beforehand. I’m learning C programming and other programming stuffs. But I don’t know what to do and proof it to the universities about my extra curricular activity.

    Reply

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