While some people think extracurricular activities are just a way to fill your time between classes and homework, they can actually really help you out. Joining extracurricular activities in high school is a great way to meet new people, figure out what you like, and help with your college/university applications. 

With all the extracurricular activities you can join in high school, how do you know what to get involved in? Here’s what you need to know about extracurricular activities and the types of extracurricular activities you can join at your high school to start your year off on the right foot. 

What are extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities are simply any high school activities that you do outside of the classroom. But that doesn’t mean that every activity you do after school counts as an extracurricular activity. Like bingeing a whole season of a show on Netflix is pretty different from having a bake sale for a cause that matters to you. If you’re getting involved in something that has an impact, it counts as an extracurricular activity.

extracurricular activities high school: people playing volleyball

Why join extracurricular activities?

So why join extracurricular activities in high school? First, they look great on college/university applications. While some schools just look at grades, more and more colleges/universities want to know what extracurricular activities you got involved in.

Also, even though it feels like it should be the opposite, joining extracurricular activities in high school can help you get better grades. This is because doing activities you love helps with brain function, concentration and managing your time better. Plus, these experiences are a great way to make new friends, boost your self-esteem, and build new skills

Tips for joining extracurricular activities

Quality over quantity

While it might be tempting to join every club, the truth is, less is more. High school extracurricular activities are a big-time commitment and if you get involved in too many of them, it ends up hurting you in the long run. Often this can affect your grades, relationships, and even mental health. So instead, lighten your load and only pick a handful of extracurricular activities you want to get involved in.

Do what you love

Sometimes people join certain extracurricular activities that they think will look good on college/university applications. Or they’ll join a club because all their friends are joining it or because their parents suggested it. But the truth is, joining an extracurricular activity that you love and are passionate about means so much more. If you think Model UN will look better on your applications but have a real artsy side, look into artistic activities instead. If you’re not sure what you love just yet, try out a few things and see what you like.

Start early & stick with it

When it comes to extracurricular activities, join things earlier rather than later. This way, you can explore and find out what you enjoy doing. Also, once you join something you like, stick with it. It will look way more genuine on college/university applications if you committed to an extracurricular activity in ninth grade and stayed with it compared to randomly joining a bunch of clubs in twelfth grade that you don’t care about as much. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to stay with a club even if you hate it. It’s just good to remember that when it comes to high school extracurricular activities, consistency is important. 

So then, what extracurricular activities should you join in high school? Here are a few extracurricular activities to inspire you to get more involved outside of the classroom.  

Extracurricular activities to join:


If you love a certain school subject, unleash your inner brainiac and join an academic extracurricular activity. This includes clubs, organizations, and competitions to learn more about certain topics that interest you. Just a few academic extracurricular activities include STEM clubs, debate club, peer tutoring, robotics competitions, decathlons, and spelling bees. 


If you love fine arts, music or drama, get involved with a creative extracurricular activity. There are so many ways to go about it– you can join a club at school, sign up for a class outside of school or even do it on your own. No matter how you like to express yourself, whether through acting, painting, music, photography, or dance, sign up for something that lets you show off your creative skills.


Broaden your horizons with language and culture clubs. Whether you want to learn another language or learn about new cultures, this is a great way to do it. Many schools offer a few clubs that might interest you, like American Sign Language Club, French Club, Japanese Club, Multicultural Club, and Spanish Club. 

Government/public interest

Learn more about either local or global policy with a political extracurricular activity. If you’re more interested in local government, run for a position on your school’s student council or your community’s youth council. If you’re more interested in international politics, though, get involved in a foreign affairs club or Model United Nations club.


If you want to learn more about media or dream of going into journalism, try a media-related extracurricular activity. From joining your school’s newspaper to helping a local radio or television station, getting involved in media is a great way to deliver news and information to your school or your local community. 


If your religion is an important part of your life, then look into ways to get more involved. From church groups to youth groups to bible and scripture study groups, there are plenty of ways to get more involved in your religious community.  

Special interest

If you have a hobby that you absolutely love, look into turning it into an extracurricular activity. From chess to video games to knitting to cosplay, see if your school has a club to match your interest. If not, you can always look within your community or even start your own club. 


If you have a love for sports, then it’s worth trying out for some more athletic extracurricular activities. There are so many ways to get involved in sports in high school. You can join a school sports team or community league, you can coach younger sports teams, or you can even play solo sports.


Work experience is a great way to get a taste of the real world. Many people worry that having a part-time job or internship doesn’t count as an extracurricular activity because it’s work experience. But that’s not true at all. If you’re working, especially if you’re supporting your family, you’re still picking up new skills and showing how responsible you are as you manage your time with school and everything else. 


If you have a passion for a specific cause, join a volunteering extracurricular activity and give back. From cancer awareness to LGBTQ+ rights to the environment, many schools have clubs where you can volunteer or fundraise for a cause that’s close to your heart. If your school doesn’t have a club geared towards that cause, don’t worry. There’s probably a good chance that there is a local organization in your community that you can join. Or, if you’re up to it, you can always start a volunteer club at your school.   

Final thoughts

While there are lots of extracurricular activities you can join in high school, the most important thing is signing up for clubs and organizations that make you happy. As long as it allows you to meet new people and do something you love, it is an extracurricular activity worth joining.