How important are extra curricular activities when compared to extra academic activities?


I’m a Year 12 NCEA student looking to gain admission into an Ivy League college after I graduate high school. I’m planning ahead and wondering how to best increase my candidacy with the time I have available. Would you recommend I a) pick up more extra curricular involvements, b) study for a couple of NZQA scholarship exams, c) work harder on my NCEA subjects, or d) look to self study some extra CIE subjects? Could you give me the advantages and disadvantages of each? Thanks for your time! :slightly_smiling_face:


It very much depends on what your current load is!

Obviously, you want to demonstrate that you surpass the requisite level of academic performance. This means great SAT/ACT, excellent GPA and rigorous course load, and can be supplemented with the scholarship exams.

Option a)

It’s important to be able to demonstrate a real passion to the admissions committee. If you have one of these, and excel at it, then a healthy dose of other extracurriculars in addition to that central, super important thing (that you can write supplements on) is exceptionally important

Option b)

How many scholarships are you anticipating to take regardless? If none, I’d definitely recommend some. I got Scholarship Stats in Year 12 with about 3 hours study, so some are super light load.

Option c)

If you’re getting straight excellences in NCEA, then this isn’t so necessary. As long as you keep at excellence level (which should be achievable for any realistic Ivy applicant) you’ll be sorted.

Option d)

@jamie.beaton is a big proponent for self study. I’d personally say NCEA + a few Scholarships is a heavy enough load (and you’ll likely have to self study for scholarships, as at least everyone at my school has to), but he might have a different opinion.

Good luck! If you have any more questions let us know :slight_smile:


Hi @sarah0765,

Regardless of your extra-curriculars and CIE, you’ll be looking to do well in scholarship next year. One of the best ways to prepare is to take scholarship exams this year. If you’re taking any subjects at level 3 this year (great option), that’ll allow you to sit scholarship this year and also mean that if any standards you score excellence grades in, you won’t have to take again next year. For most things science-math related it’s going to be difficult to sit scholarships without having nailed level 3 (it’s possible, but you’re essentially going to have to self-study level 3 and do practice papers to prepare). If you prepare well and are a good writer, consider taking scholarship papers for English/history/art history etc. Nothing to lose! Good luck :slight_smile: