Wednesday’s Parent: Pick a club but not any club

College-bound: Pick a club but not any club. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

College-bound: Pick a club but not any club. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When it comes to college admission, extracurricular activities matter. Colleges want students who have focused on a particular area or two to achieve higher competency, show leadership, and display maturity and commitment. Students may not know what they want to major in but they can demonstrate focal points of pursuits. Selecting the right one is like finding a friend.

A year ago, I explained the importance of Adding the extras because, “Colleges want interesting, motivated students who show commitment to their passions and will not just fit in but will contribute to their campus.” I provided ways parents can help their college-bound develop interests, talents, hobbies, volunteer and job experience.

Not all activities and not all levels of participation will help the college-bound. To help your child pick a club, use these five lessons learned from choosing a friend:

1. You have something in common. Teens are often drawn to a particular club either because of an interest in participating in the activity or because they want to join other club members. They stay in it and get the most out of it when the two combine. Give it a good try when mixing new or old passions with new or old friends because student interests can change.

2. You want to spend time together. It can be challenging or comfortable but the activity chosen should make the student smile. Students should enjoy participating and look forward to spending their free time there.

3. You want to give as much as take. It is better to be an active club member of one or two activities than a passive brief contributor to many. Use the opportunity to grow in the organization, hone skills and polish leadership abilities.

4. You can count on it. To be most rewarding, the club and its members have to be reliable. Even if it is a seasonal activity, students have to be able to count on certain events and other club members for doing their part. When students put in their time and dedication, they should expect reciprocal support.

5. They bring out the best in you. The goal is to grow, thrive and mature in the chosen environment. Like hanging with a bad crowd, a club that doesn’t suit the student should be ditched. The best clubs and activities can help the student reach new heights and accomplish more than he could on his own.

Don’t worry if your teen is not a joiner. There are plenty of solo activities and sports that fill the role of a club. Students can use the above lessons to help them choose.

Read Suzanne’s post: Wednesday’s Parent: An Extracurricular Match Made in Heaven


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer 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!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

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 and vice versa.