Extracurriculars are an essential component of your application because they show the college what you do that is not academically related (something that’s not required to do at school).
As a teenager, you are finally open to the option of having a job, but you may be wondering, is a job considered an extracurricular activity?
A job, full-time, part-time, or freelance, is most definitely considered an extracurricular activity and would look great on your college application. It can showcase your interests and is a powerful indicator of your passions.
Will a job look good on my college application?
Yes, a job will look good on your college application for many reasons. The most obvious advantage of having a job (in my opinion) is that it shows your ability to manage your time efficiently and effectively.
If you have a mix of A’s and B’s throughout high school and a job, it shows that you have a very important skill in life (that will also help you succeed in college): time management.
Having good grades and a job will also make you seem like a hard-working person (a very desirable trait).
A Job will also make you stand out in the pool of applicants. The majority of teenagers don’t have a job, so that is something the college admissions officers can remember about you.
I’m not an admissions officer, but I think it’s pretty apparent that admissions officers get tired of reading applications that all seem the same.
Your goal with your college application is to have something that will make the admissions officer remember you from thousands of other students. If a job is something that not many applicants have, then your chances of being considered for admission increase.
Colleges also look for diversity in their admitted class; if you have something unique, you’re helping the college seem more diverse.
What are the benefits of a job as a teenager?
There are many benefits to having a job as a teenager, and if I were to list them all, I could make a whole article. Instead, I will tell you guys what I think are the most significant/most important benefits.
First and foremost, you will develop teamwork skills. Learning how to work with others is crucial, no matter what you decide to do with your life.
Learning how to work with other people can help you down the road when it comes to something like getting a promotion at work. If you can’t cooperate with your colleagues, then they won’t recommend you for a promotion if your boss asks if you deserve it.
Another major benefit of having a job is that it teaches you the value of money. Most teenagers have been financially supported by their parents or guardians all their life. Once you get a job, it’s going to something like this:
- You: “Mom, can I get a new pair of jeans from *insert clothing store*?”
- Mom: “You have a job now, so why don’t you pay if you want those jeans?”
- You: 🙁
*The Next Day*
- You: “Dad, can we order pizza for dinner?”
- Dad: “Sure, if you pay for it :)”
- You: 🙁
This is what happened to me when I got my job.
Of course, my parents would buy me clothing if I needed it, but if I wanted another pair of jeans that looked the same as my current ones (my mom’s words), I would need to pay for it.
Naturally, I did not want to spend money on something that I didn’t need, so I have been putting all my money into savings. Having a job taught me how careful I need to be with my money and how expensive things are.
One of my favorite benefits of having a full-time or part-time job is the feeling of independence I get.
Yes, my money is sitting in savings, but I earned it nonetheless!
It makes me feel liberated that I earned that money at this age and gives me a sort of independence that I am proud of.
What kind of jobs can I get as a teenager?
Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to get a job, but what can a teenager possibly do? You’re most likely going to get a minimum wage job or a job that pays per hour based on your employer. At this age, it’s impossible to get any salaried job such as an engineer.
Some of the more typical/obvious jobs include babysitter (this is the kind of job that pays based on the employer), fast-food employee, waiter/waitress, tutor, cashier, grocer, or lifeguard. If you look at these jobs closely, they all teach you valuable skills.
A babysitter or a tutor, for example, will teach you how to deal with kids and maybe a little bit of patience. If you are working as a cashier at a fast-food place or a waiter/waitress, you are interacting with people, and that will sharpen your communication skills.
One of the more interesting jobs to have is something online. You have endless possibilities with the internet, and those possibilities could pay you quite well.
An example would be a website designer. A lot of people are creating websites for various reasons, such as promoting their small business. This also teaches you useful skills with the ways of the internet (and you could use the skills you learn to create your own online business!).
A newer and less common job would be creating your own business. Entrepreneurship definitely shows that you are a leader and that you take matters into your own hands.
If the glories of being a grocer at your local Safeway doesn’t sound appealing, and you have an idea for a business, go for it.
This does require a bit of work and a lot of motivation because you don’t have fixed work shifts, but if this idea is something you’re passionate about, that will be your fuel.
Now, you may be wondering what kind of business could I possibly make? Something as simple as making art and selling it counts as a business or creating mini-documentaries and videos for someone.
Maybe you like jewelry and want to start a small jewelry business selling to your friends or people online, whatever your heart’s desire.
Before you get too excited, check with your state laws on what age you have to be to have a job. In my state, like most others, you have to be 14 or older to get paid, and even then, I can only work limited hours on certain days.
But if you want to do something entrepreneurial, then you obviously don’t have to be a certain age to start.
Is volunteering considered a job?
According to the internet, a job is a paid position of regular employment, and as a volunteer, you are not being paid. I wouldn’t completely disregard this.
Even though it may not be the dictionary definition of a job, you are still taking time out of your week to serve others.
If you’ve been volunteering at your local homeless shelter for years now, it shows your drive to help others. Even though volunteering is technically not a job, you should still put it on your application.
If I got a job my senior year, can I still put it on my application?
You should most definitely put a job on your application, even if you got it your senior year. Unlike clubs, if you start a job your senior year, it probably won’t seem like a last-ditch effort to add fluff to your application.
I’m pretty sure college admissions officers know that you can’t get many jobs until you are 16 or 18, so don’t worry.
Should I still put my job on my college application if I’m not passionate about it?
I’m quite sure you don’t find being a cashier at Chipotle, the most thrilling thing you’ve ever done, but you should still put it on your application.
Like I said before, a job, regardless of what it may be, will teach you some life skills. It will also show the colleges – if you are able to simultaneously have good grades – that you have good time management skills and work ethic.
If you have the opportunity, I think you should get a job. It looks great on your application, teaches you life skills, and earns you money.
I love my job (it’s not the typical, common job like a cashier or waitress), and I know that when it comes time for me to assemble my college application, it will definitely make me stand out.
Do Summer Programs Count as Extracurricular Activities?
Summer programs absolutely count as extracurricular activities on your college application. In general, colleges want to see that you are well-rounded and have interests outside of the classroom, so participating in summer programs is a great way to show them that you are.
When choosing a summer program, it is important to select one that is related to your interests and will help you grow professionally.
Here are some tips for choosing a summer program:
- Consider your interests. What are you passionate about? What do you like to learn more about?
- Look for reputable programs.
- Read reviews of the program before you apply.
- If possible, talk to people who have participated in the program before.
- Don’t forget about the family budget.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.