500+ Examples of Extracurricular Activities for High School Students

Bonus Material: Extracurricular Activities Worksheet

Extracurricular activities are an essential component of competitive college applications.

When college admissions officers read your application, they’re generally on the lookout for three things:

  1. Character & Personal Qualities
  2. Academic Achievement
  3. Extracurricular Distinction

Many of our students and ask us how they can achieve extracurricular distinction.

What extracurricular activities should they pursue? And how do they earn distinction within a specific activity?

To answer these questions, we like to start by first defining what actually counts as an extracurricular activity (hint: more than you might realize!).

Then we point students to this list of 500+ examples of activities worth pursuing within the categories that appear on the Common Application.

We also give readers access to our Extracurricular Activities Worksheet. This is a valuable FREE resource for students needing extra guidance in choosing activities likely to suit their interests and lead to a solid college application. Grab this below.

Here’s what we cover:


What Are Extracurricular Activities?

Extracurricular activities can seem pretty straightforward. Aren’t they just activities you pursue outside of the classroom?

Generally speaking, yes.

But extracurricular activities aren’t limited to what your school offers. Nor do they have to be associated with a specific program or organization. They can be much broader than that.

Here is how the Common App, the platform many students use to apply to college, defines an extracurricular activity:

To reiterate, an extracurricular activity can be:

  • A personal pursuit, interest, or hobby
  • Athletics
  • School-based (or related)
  • Community-based (or related)
  • Online-based
  • Employment
  • Family-related and
  • Anything else that has been meaningful to you!

Extracurricular activities can be associated with clubs, organizations, programs, teams, or other groups. They can be entirely independent. They can also be activities that you start or initiate outside of your usual classroom obligations as a high school student.

So what’s the secret?

Consistency.

We define an extracurricular activity as one you pursue outside of the classroom in a consistent fashion.

We like to add that particularly rich extracurricular activities from a college admissions standpoint often have at least one of the following qualities. These activities

  • Build or maintain specific skills
  • Prepare you for a future career
  • Demonstrate your interest or passion
  • Provide relevant context
  • Say something about you and what you care about and/or
  • Have impact of some kind (on you personally, others, or your community)

How We’ve Organized Our 500+ Examples of Extracurricular Activities

The Common App requires applicants to categorize each of their activities when reporting them. They also ask other questions about your role within an activity, organization name(s), and recognition or achievement.

Here are the categories the Common App uses to organize extracurricular activities:

We’ve organized our list of extracurricular activities below according to these Common App categories.

We want to emphasize that this list is not exhaustive! But it is an excellent resource for students looking for the kinds of activities likely to make their applications more competitive.

That’s why we also strongly encourage readers to download our Extracurricular Activities Worksheet, a self-guided worksheet that helps students choose and plan the right activities for their time in high school.


500+ Examples of (Awesome) Extracurricular Activities for High School Students

Academic Activities

Academic activities include any programs, groups, or activities that have a strictly academic focus. These include college courses and programs, honor societies, school clubs, competitions or contests, and other academic programs or interests.

TypeExamples
College
Course
or Early
College
Program
Princeton University courses for high school students
Community College Courses
Honor
Society
Quill and Scroll
National Business Honor Society
National Honor Society
National Society of High School Scholars
National English Honor Society
Math Honor Society

Club

Young Architects Club
Literature Club
Local Amateur Astronomy Club
Junior Economic Club
ChemClub
Biology Club
Engineering Club
National History Club
Science Club
Math Club
Physics Club
Psychology Club
Coding Club
Computer Science Club
Art History Club
Shakespeare Club
American History Club
Creative Writing Club
Competition
or contest
National Academic Quiz Tournaments
National Science Bowl
International Mathematical Olympiad
American Mathematics Competitions
Academic Decathlon
Academic Triathlon
American Regions Mathematics League
Brain Bee
Caribou Contests
U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad
CSTL Clean Tech Competition
C-SPAN StudentCam Competition
Rube Goldberg Machine Contest
National Economics Challenge
Institute of Competition Sciences
Kids Philosophy Slam
Math League
Modeling the Future Challenge
Imagine Cup
National Academic League
National Geographic GeoBee
National Geographic GeoChallenge
Regeneron Science & Engineering Fair
National History Bee & Bowl
National Ocean Sciences Bowl
Scripps National Spelling Bee
Science Olympiad
School Innovation Challenge
School Bee
Science Fair
Other Math/Science Competition
Other Academic Competition/Contest
ProgramAcademic Summer Program
Pre-College Program
Odyssey of the Mind
Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)
Junior Academy of Science
Youth Entrepreneurs
Educators Rising
National Student Leadership Conference
Mock Trial
Other
Peer Academic Tutoring
Peer ESL Tutoring
Peer Test Prep Tutoring

Art

Art activities include any personal interests, hobbies, clubs, groups, programs, or competitions/contests with an artistic or creative emphasis.

TypeExamples
Personal
Interest
Photography
Visual Arts
Podcasting
YouTube Channel
Anime/Manga
Animation
Drawing/Sketching
Oil Painting
Acrylic Painting
Watercoloring
Textiles
Weaving
Blogging
Embroidery
Quilting / Sewing
Crocheting
Knitting
3D Art (Sculpture, Ceramics, Pottery)
Stenciling
Puppetry
Performance Art
Encaustics
Food Blog
Jewelry making
Fashion magazine or blog
Graphic Design
School Poster/Banner Design
Mixed Media Art
Metalworking
Carpentry
Screen printing or printmaking
Woodworking
Culinary arts
Candle-making
Cartooning
Scrapbooking
Graphic Novel Writing
Creative Writing
Poetry
Spoken Word
Videography
School or local web design
School or local radio station
Personal website or blog
School or local T.V. channel
ClubArt Club
Film Club
Yearbook Committee
Anime/Manga Club
Photography Club
Creative Writing Club
Visual Arts Club
Podcasting Club
Watercolor Club
Classic Film Club
Poetry Club
Book Club
Fashion Club
Graphic Novel Club
Young Writers Group (online)
Young Artists Group (online)
Shakespeare Club
Science Fiction Club
Media Club
Arts & Crafts Club
ProgramNational Art Honor Society
Local Arts Workshop
Local Writing Workshop
Arts Conference
Art-based Summer Program
Writing Summer Workshop
Young Writers Conference
Young Writers Workshop
Young Artists Exhibition
College-level Art Course
College-level Creative Writing Course
Competition
or Contest
Competitions for Young Writers
Competitions for Young Artists
Local Art Contests
Local Writing Contests
Film Festival Entrant
NaNoWriMo
Poetry Out Loud
Teen Poetry Slam
Bennington Young Writers Awards
Congressional Art Competition

Athletics

Athletics include personal interest, club, intramural, team, and JV/Varsity sports and athletic pursuits.

TypeExamples
Club or
Program

Yoga Club
Equestrian Club
Hiking Club
Skateboard Club
Ultimate Frisbee Club
Club Swimming
Fencing Club
Martial Arts Club
Cycling Club
Ping Pong Club
Tai Chi Club
Quidditch Club
Intramural Sports
Cycling Club
Rock Climbing Club
Running Club
Marathon
Triathlon
Iron Man
Half Marathon
JV
Varsity

Pickleball
Cycling Team
Bodybuilding
Fencing
Martial Arts
Badminton
Baseball
Basketball
Cheerleading
Cross Country
Dance Team
Field Hockey
Flag Football
Football
Golf
Gymnastics
Hockey
Indoor Track & Field
Lacrosse
Soccer
Softball
Slow Pitch Softball
Surfing
Swimming & Diving
Tennis
Track & Field
Volleyball
Water Polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling
Ultimate Frisbee
Competitive Snowboarding
Competitive Skiing
Ice Hockey
Equestrian Team
Bowling

Career-Oriented Activities

Career-oriented activities emphasize professional skills and/or job preparation , often within a specific field. They can be clubs, programs, groups, or other activities.

TypeExamples
Club
Future Pharmacists Club
Future Doctors Club
Future Scientists Club
National Beta Club
Future Architects Club
Economics Club
Future Educators of America Club
Entrepreneurship Club
Future Investors Club
Investment Club
Young Artists Club
Stock Market Club
Wall Street Club
Program
Youth Apprenticeship Program
Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)
HOSA Future Health Professionals
Medical Explorers
Nursing Students Association
Society of Women Engineers
Leadership Summit
Mock Trial
Model United Nations
SkillsUSA
Pre-Med Summer Program
Forensics Team
Future Business Leaders of America
Business Professionals of America
Other career skills development program
OtherSchool Store or Marketplace
Teacher’s assistant / Classroom Aid
Assistant Coach
Job Shadowing
Peer Leadership Group
Mentorship Group

Community Service (Volunteer)

Community service or volunteering activities are any that involve offering your time to others without compensation. They can be clubs, programs, or self-directed activities, and these can be school-based, community-based, or organization-based.

TypeExamples
ClubKey Club
4H
Boy Scouts
Girl Scouts
Leo Club
Red Cross Club
UNICEF High School Clubs
Service Club
Program or
Organization
The Mountaineers
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Doctors Without Borders
Breast Cancer Awareness
Cancer Foundation
International Volunteer Program
Volunteer Fire Department
Adopt-a-Highway
Best Buddies
Special Olympics
Community Literacy Program
Litter Reduction Program
Make A Wish Foundation
Juntos Collective
Do Something
RAINN
Habitat for Humanity
Kids Helping Kids
Other or
Self-Directed
Community Garden
Volunteering at a local prison
Horse therapy
Working with disabled individuals
ESL Tutoring
Peer Tutoring / Mentoring
Children’s hospital work
Local Hospital Work
Volunteering at a Wildlife Refuge
Local Conservation Work
Local charity fundraiser or event
Sexual Health Education
Local Animal Shelter
Missionary work
Church outreach
Community Soup Kitchen
Local Homeless Shelter
Local Nursing Home
Local Domestic Violence Shelter or Prevention Organization
Assisting the Elderly

Computer/Technology Activities

Computer/technology activities can be clubs, programs, groups, competitions, or personal interests that have an emphasis on computers and/or technology.

TypeExamples
ClubCoding Club
Young Hackers Club
Computer Science Club
Young Computer Scientists Club
ProgramComputer Science College Course
Computer Science Summer Program
IT Non-Profit
Coding Camp
CompetitionCoding Challenge
Hackathon
American Computer Science League
Imagine Cup
OtherWebsite Development
App Development
Video Game Development
Theatre Tech (Lighting and/or Sound)
Computer literacy
School IT Support
Computer building

Dance

Dance activities are clubs, teams, hobbies, competitions, programs, or events that involve some form of dance or movement.

TypeExamples
Club,
Team,
or Hobby
Hip Hop
Jazz Dance
Irish Dance
Contemporary / Modern Dance
Latin Dance
Interpretive Dance
Swing Dance
African, West Indian, African-American Dance
Ceremonial Dance
Tap Dance
Classical Dance
Cultural Dance
Ballroom Dance
Ballet
Other form of dance
CompetitionDance competition (local)
Dance competition (national)
Dance competition (international)
OtherChoreography
Dance Therapy
Juntos Collective
College-level Dance Course
Community Dance Program, Team, or Event

Debate/Speech

Debate/Speech activities include clubs, teams, competitions or contests, personal interests, or other programs that have an emphasis on debate, speech, or speaking.

TypeExamples
Club or
Team
Speech and Debate Team
National Forensics League
Debate Club
Rhetoric Club
Young Orators of America
Personal
Interest
Speechwriting
Essay writing
Competition
or Contest
American Legion Oratorical Contest
Local Debate Competition
National Debate Competition

Environmental

Environmental activities emphasize anything related to the environment, often in the context of protecting, supporting, or understanding it. They can be clubs, programs, contests, personal interests, or other activities.

TypeExamples
ClubEcoClub
Environmental Club
Fair Trade Club
Recycling Club
Sustainability Club
Zero Waste Club
ProgramThe Mountaineers
Sustainable Food Program
UCLA GreenSparks
Sustainable Summer
Environmental Science and Sustainability Program
Stanford Earth Young Investigators
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab
Forestry Summer Camp or Program
Environmental Science Summer Camp
Young Reporters for the Environment
ContestNCF-Envirothon
Carton 2 Garden Contest
National Recreation Trails Photo Contest
OtherLocal Conservation Work
Zero Waste Challenge
Trail Maintenance or Building
Permaculture
Gardening / Horticulture
Community Garden
Green Schools Initiative
Climate Change Activism

Family Responsibilities

Family responsibilities entail any obligations or duties specific to you within your family. We recognize that every family situation is unique and has its own set of responsibilities, so this list is by no means exhaustive.

  • Childcare/babysitting of siblings or relatives
  • Care of a family member with a disability
  • Care of a family member with terminal illness
  • Care of a family member with a medical condition
  • Care of an elderly relative
  • Assisting a single parent
  • Employment to support family
  • Religious obligations

Culture & Foreign Language Activities

Cultural and foreign language activities focus on a specific culture, language, and/or cultural practice, and can involve clubs, student-led groups, study abroad programs, and others.

TypeExamples
ClubSpanish Club
French Club
German Club
Japanese Club
Portuguese Club
American Sign Language Club
Chinese Club
Latin Club
Pacific Islanders Club
Russian Club
South Asian Student Society
Latino/a Students’ Association
Muslim Students’ Association
Greek Club
Foreign Language Club
Endangered Languages Club
International Food Club
Black Students’ Union
BIPOC Students’ Union
Asian Students’ Union
ProgramForeign Exchange or Study Abroad Program
Language-Based Summer Program
OtherForeign Language Contest, such as the National French Contest
Latin Honor Society
Student Diplomacy Corps
Cultural Dance
Tutoring students in a foreign language
Teaching English as a Second Language

Internship

Internships give high school students a period of (typically unpaid) work experience, often within an organization. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to possible internships for high school students. We’ve included a sampling of what’s out there below.

  • Internship at local hospital
  • Job shadow internship
  • Laboratory internship
  • Law firm / legal internship
  • Healthcare internship
  • Media internship (newspaper, magazine, T.V., publication)
  • Anthropology internship
  • Environmental / Sustainability internship
  • Political science internship (campaign work, for example)
  • Community health internship
  • Theatre/drama internship
  • Research-based internship
  • Artist internship
  • Non-profit sector internship
  • Teacher’s assistantship / internship
  • Other internship

Journalism/Publication

Journalism and publication activities are any related to the world of publishing and journalistic writing. They can be a school-led club or group, like the school newspaper, program, internship, or other activity. They can also involve actual publications of your writing in any genre, including scientific research and creative works.

TypeExamples
Club or
Group
School Newspaper
Journalism Club
School Literary Journal
School Magazine
School E-Zine
OtherJournalism internship
Publication (i.e., article, story, poem, etc.)
Local/Community Newspaper
Community or National Literary Journal
Young Journalists Competitions

Junior ROTC

A federal program, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) introduces high school students to military customs, elements of leadership, and much more. We’ve also included other military-related extracurricular activities below.

LGBTQ+ Activities

LGBTQ+ activities are any that are related to the LGBTQ+ community and/or its rights and interests. They can be clubs, programs, acts of service, or other groups, and can also involve advocacy efforts.

TypeExamples
ClubLGBTQ+ Club
Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA)
Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)
Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA)
Diversity Club
Pride Student Union
Queer Book Club
Queer Filmmakers Club
Queer Fashion Club
Queer Podcast
Queer Student Athletes
Program or OtherPride March
Pride High School Event or Program
Gender and Sexuality Awareness
Volunteering at an LGBTQ+ Center
Trans Rights Advocacy
LGBTQ+ Youth Peer Support Group
LGBTQ+ Rights Advocacy
Trans Youth Rights Advocacy
Other LGBTQ+ Advocacy, Program, Work, or Activity

Music: Instrumental & Vocal

Music activities are any that involve the practice and/or performance of music, instrumental or vocal. These include hobbies, clubs, groups, programs, and competitions.

TypeExamples
Club or
Group
Music Creation and DJ Club
Pep Band
Jazz Band
Church Band
High School Band
Duo, Trio, Quartet, etc.
Other Instrumental Music Group
Music Appreciation Club
High School Orchestra
Community Orchestra or Symphony
Community Band
High School Choir
A capella group
Church Choir
Personal Band or Music Group
Young Composers Club
ProgramSongwriting Workshop
Music Summer Camp or Program
Tri-M Music Honor Society
CompetitionSongwriting Competition
District and/or state music festivals
National music festivals
Classical music competition
Vocal competition
Personal
Interest
Personal Instrument
Vocal training / singing lessons
Songwriting
Composing
DJing
Cultural Music
Album or record release
Music Podcast
Recording Studio

Religious

Religious activities are any associated with a religion or faith tradition. They can be school clubs, church groups, or community programs. They can also simply involve any consistent engagement within your church, such as acting as a Sunday School teacher or church greeter.

TypeExamples
School
Club
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Jewish Student Union
School Youth Group or Club
Christian Student Organization (CSO)
OtherChurch Youth Group
Church Greeter
Church Volunteer
Missionary Work
Church Choir or Band
Church Outreach
Church Mentorship Program
Bible Study
Sunday School Instruction
Study of Religious Text(s)
Assistance in Religious Services

Research

Research activities refer to any that involve dedicated research of a certain subject over a period of time. These can be programs, summer experiences, internships, and independent projects. The sky is the limit when it comes to possible research opportunities for high school students. We’ve included a sampling of what’s out there below.

  • Summer Research Program
  • Independent research project
  • Research for course credit
  • Research-based internship
  • Assisting faculty members with research
  • Personal interest-based research

Robotics

Robotics activities include anything related to the creation, exploration, and/or study of robots and robotic technology. They can be school clubs, programs, competitions, or other activities.

TypeExamples
ClubRobotics Club
Robotics Team
ProgramSummer Robotics Program or Camp
Local Robotics Program
Independent robotics project or research
College-level Robotics Course
CompetitionFIRST Robotics Competition
KISS Institute for Practical Robotics Tournament
BEST Robotics Competition
School Robotics Challenge
Other local or national Robotics Challenge

School Spirit

School spirit activities are any that emphasize support for your school and its student body.

  • Pep Band
  • Campus Tour Guide or Representative
  • Cheerleading
  • Spirit Squad
  • Student Council
  • School Spirit Club
  • Student Event Coordinator
  • Other School Spirit Club, Program, or Event

Social Justice

Social justice activities have an emphasis on fairness and equality, especially for the marginalized. These include clubs, organizations, movement, advocacy efforts, programs, and more.

TypeExamples
ClubAnimal Rights Club
Young Activists Club
Student Union
Organization or
Movement
Amnesty International
Black Lives Matter
Local Immigrant Rights Organization
Students Against Destructive Decisions
National Organization for Women (NOW)
RAINN
Indigenous Peoples Movement
Climate Change Activism
Move for Hunger
Students Against Sexual Assault
LGBTQ+ Rights Advocacy
March for Our Lives
Trans Youth Rights Advocacy
Girls Learn International
National Alliance to End Homelessness
OtherPolitical campaign assistance or advocacy
Domestic violence prevention
Gun violence prevention
Racial equality work
Hunger equality / food scarcity work
Access to healthcare
Anti-racism work
Campus safety
Other activism

Student Government/Politics

Activities in this category are related to political and governing systems, politics, and/or student government. They include clubs, groups, competitions, programs, and much more.

TypeExamples
Club or
Group
Teenage Republicans
High School Democrats of America
Student Council
Student Body Government
Community Government
School Board Representation
Young Democrats of America
CompetitionEuro Challenge
Virtual Supreme Court Competition
American Legion Oratorical Contest
American Foreign Service National High School Essay Contest
ProgramRunning Start
Mock Trial
Model United Nations

Theatre/Drama

Theatre and drama activities emphasize performance and all of its genres, aspects, and forms. They include clubs, programs, events, competitions, and personal interests.

TypeExamples
ClubHigh School Drama Troupe or Club
Comedy or Improv Troupe or Club
Dungeons and Dragons Club
Film Production Club
International Thespian Society
ProgramCommunity Theatre Program
Community Theatre Workshop or Summer Camp
Renaissance Faires
Historical Reenactment Program
College-level Drama Course
Other/
Personal
Interest
Musical Theatre
Musical Theatre Songwriting
Community Theatre
LARPing (Live Action Role Playing)
Independent film-making
Set building
Stage management
Directing
Theatre tech (light and/or sound)
Screenwriting
Playwriting
Standup comedy

Work (Paid)

Paid work refers to any employment for which you are financially compensated over a period of time. There are many different kinds of employment opportunities out there for young people, so this list is not finite.

  • Yard or landscaping work
  • Housesitting
  • Camp counselor or assistant
  • Service industry work (restaurant, café, etc.)
  • Administrative work (receptionist, office assistant)
  • Assistantship
  • Paid internship
  • Paid research
  • Child care
  • Construction work
  • Grocery store clerk
  • Retail position
  • Copyediting or writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Other paid work

Other Club or Activity

You might encounter extracurricular activities that don’t fall under the Common App’s categories.

Some examples include:

  • Meditation Club
  • Health and Wellness Club
  • Mental Health Advocacy
  • Chess Club or Chess Competition
  • Horticulture or Gardening Club
  • National Model Railroad Association
  • Other Special Interest Club or Hobby

How to Choose Extracurricular Activities

With so many options to choose from, how do you make sure you’re picking the right activities for your interests? What’s more, how should students plan their activities so that they can have a competitive college application?

We’ve got some great advice for choosing the best extracurricular activities for you and your college aspirations. You can find all of this advice in our self-guided Extracurricular Activities Worksheet, which you can download for free!

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Simple and effective exercises
  • Insight into what’s important to you
  • Questions designed to help you choose meaningful activities
  • A copy of the 500+ activities in this post


Greg & Kevin

Greg and Kevin are brothers and the co-founders of PrepMaven and Princeton Tutoring. They are Princeton engineering graduates with over 20 years of education experience. They apply their data and research-backed problem-solving skills to the test prep and college preparation process. Their unique approach places a heavy emphasis on personal development, character, and service as key components of college admissions success.