STEM Extracurricular Activities: If you intend to major in science in college, including topics like physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and earth science, you are aware of how competitive STEM programs are. You can better prepare your application to convince admissions officers that you are deserving of acceptance the earlier you begin thinking about college.
Strong academic records and test results are crucial for getting into colleges, although many STEM hopefuls will have the same marks. In order to stand out, you must show that you have the personal traits that will make you a good fit for the major—qualities like leadership, dedication, and a love of science, for example.
The Ideal STEM Extracurricular Activities
The ideal approach to do this is through extracurricular activities. Ideas for extracurricular activities for future scientists are provided below!
1. School Clubs
Clubs are the most visible extracurricular pursuit. In addition to offering a group of students who share your interests, clubs that are organized via your school are simple to identify and join. Students have a constant means to pursue their passions each week through weekly meetings and activities.
The majority of science clubs focus on a particular area or subject. If you already know what you want to study, joining one of these can help you connect with other students who share your interests and learn from them. Joining one or two of these will enable you to organise your interest exploration if you are unsure of what you want to study. Here are a few instances of science clubs you might come across:
- Astronomy Club
- Astrophysics Club
- Biochemistry Club
- Chemistry Club
- Earth Science Club
- Food Chemistry Club
- Future Scientists
- Oceanography Club
- Rocket Club
- Physics Club
Consider becoming a member of the Science National Honor Society (SNHS). Through the local chapter of their school, students sign up for SNHS. Students must take science courses at the Honors or AP level, maintain a specific overall GPA, a particular science GPA, and complete volunteer hours to be eligible for membership.
Your participation in SNHS will have a significant impact on your prospects of getting into college. You won’t stand out if all you do is pay the membership fee and put it on your CV. On the other hand, it is significant and may impact your chances of admission if you quickly increase your school’s outreach and charity before joining the national board.
Science olympiads and science fairs are the two main types of science competitions for high school students.
Olympiads are knowledge-based competitions where challenges and examinations demonstrate your subject-matter proficiency. The major Olympiads are as follows:
Students participate in teams in 23 events from a variety of scientific disciplines during the Science Olympiad. Anatomy and physiology, forensics, mechanical engineering, and other topics are covered. Being successful in this competition shows teamwork and fast thinking.
A science competition called the Chemistry Olympiad places a special emphasis on students’ understanding of chemistry. The top candidates advance to the next round of exams in the Chemistry Olympiad. Look into local exams being provided in your area if you enjoy chemistry and perform well on standardized assessments.
The Physics Olympiad is a science contest that includes a number of physics subject assessments. The top twenty test takers from the second level exam advance to an intense study camp and eventually represent the United States at the International Physics Olympiad. There are two levels of exams.
Success in a science fair reveals a comprehension of procedures, the capacity to master a nuanced subject, and the capacity to pursue your curiosity. Success in an Olympiad demonstrates your depth of knowledge within a scientific discipline.
From small, local science fairs to large, prestigious events like the Google Science Fair, science fairs come in all shapes and sizes. No matter what level you’re competing at, having a fresh and intriguing scientific project on your resume can assist highlight your areas of interest and innovation. To offer your study the best chance of success, carefully consider your topic and devote time to writing a research proposal.
3. Summer Programs
There are numerous types and sizes of summer programs. Popular programs are frequently free, and they occasionally even pay students a stipend as compensation for their efforts. The greatest programs consist of:
Anson L. Clark Scholars Program
Students from a variety of disciplines, including biology, computer science, and history, are welcome to apply to the Anson L. Clark Scholars Program. Students from all over the world travel to Texas Tech University where they have the exceptional chance to work one-on-one with faculty over the program’s seven grueling weeks and get practical research experience in their area of study.
Many Clark Scholars make use of the experience to mold their future academic and professional objectives. For selected applicants, the Clark Scholar Program is free; the only expense students incur is travel expenses to and from the program. Only 12 students are selected each summer for this highly exclusive program, which is open to juniors and seniors in high school.
MIT Introduction to Technology, Engineering, and Science (MITES)
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers the residential MITES program to students interested in earning a degree—and consequently a career—in the STEM professions. Participants in the program are bright academically and come from various underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds.
In this six-week residential program, high school juniors learn about the benefits and rewards of earning advanced technical degrees while also developing the skills necessary for success in STEM industries. Students only need to pay for transportation to and from MIT; MITES is entirely free.
Research Science Institute (RSI)
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Research Science Institute brings together 100 of the best high school students in the world for a free five-week program that allows them to fully engage with the research cycle.
Students at RSI create individual projects under the direction of seasoned scientists and researchers, combining on-campus training in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. The culmination of their work is a written and spoken presentation of their projects.
Numerous schools and institutions provide residential pre-college programs where students live in residence halls while taking a summer course for a few weeks. Even while students must typically pay tuition and housing costs for these programs, many of them give you the chance to earn college credits that you may put on your college transcript.
4. Self-Driven Projects
Admissions officials find self-driven initiatives to be particularly impressive since they display drive, commitment, and ingenuity. That being said, you must really complete a self-driven endeavor for it to be impressive. We advise you to work on self-driven projects with friends you meet through a club, summer program, or course if you have problems holding yourself accountable.
Different tasks call for various skill levels. When choosing a project, conduct some research online, visit discussion forums, and, most importantly, speak with someone who has done research on your issue before. Establishing trustworthy procedures, upholding a plan with deadlines, and making wise financial decisions can all benefit greatly from the guidance of a mentor.
Typical starting projects consist of:
- Build your own telescope
- Analyze the macronutrient concentration of your favorite food
- Make a Rube Goldberg machine
- Build a projectile or racecar
- Make a battery to power your everyday appliances
- Code an app or website
5. Mentoring and Teaching
There has been a strong push in recent years to get kids interested in STEM fields at an early age, especially those of underrepresented colors and genders. As a result, high school students who are interested in STEM have lots of possibilities to mentor and instruct younger kids.
Start by contacting the elementary and middle schools in your neighborhood. You could start working as a teaching assistant or take the weekly STEM seminar leadership position at a school. Remember that there are lower-level olympiads and scientific fairs as well. You may take on a project advisory role for a science fair or take on the role of coach for a local school’s Physics Olympiad team.
How Do Extracurricular Activities Affect Your College Prospects?
The quality of your involvement and what it reveals about you as an applicant are more important to admissions committees than the activities you choose to participate in. Extracurricular activities have a significant impact on college admissions if done well.
You need to concentrate your efforts because some activities are given more weight than others. In order to better understand how extracurricular activities affect admissions, we categorize them into different Tiers.
Tier 1: These tasks display the highest degree of proficiency. They have a very positive impression on college admissions committees since they are uncommon and exceptional. This can involve succeeding in a national or international competition or enrolling in a prestigious or highly selective program. These are unusual activities.
Tier 2: These actions enhance your overall profile and demonstrate a high degree of achievement or leadership. This might include assuming a significant leadership role, succeeding in a prominent tournament, or starting a prosperous new club.
Tier 3: Activities in Tier 3 are more advanced than those in Tier 4 and typically involve some level of achievement. This can involve taking on a little leadership role or placing first in a modest tournament.
Tier 4: These are pursuits in which your involvement is primarily on the surface. These activities are the ones that college admissions committees view the most frequently, thus they don’t have the same influence as higher-tier activities.
Consider which of your extracurriculars will make an impression on admissions officers when you make your selection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which extracurriculars best represent Harvard?
For Harvard, there is no right or wrong extracurricular activity. Simply follow your passions. You don't have to participate in extracurricular activities just because you read or heard that Harvard favors particular kinds, such as solely sports or athletics. Really, anything that is productive can be used.
How Many Extracurricular Activities Should You Do?
Strong applications typically list eight to ten extracurricular activities.
What extracurricular activities favor Stanford?
Choose pursuits that genuinely interest you and highlight your talents, whether it is playing an instrument, giving back to your community, or joining a sports team. Stanford also looks for students with a track record of leadership and the capacity to make a difference in their communities.
Is Coding an extracurricular activity?
The collaborative nature of computer science may be experienced through extracurricular activities like hackathons, coding clubs, and summer camps. These are excellent ways to apply and extend what you learn in the classroom. Take a look at the chances listed below to continue on your CS journey.