Will this look good on my application?
This is the worst reason why you should choose a sport, hobby, volunteer project, or musical instrument to play.
College admissions counselors hate the question “Which looks better on my application…?” It exasperates them. They will tell you again and again, they don’t want to see that you’re doing things to check boxes or pad your resume. They want your application to tell them about who you really are and what’s important to you.
So if you play the violin even though you hate it or you volunteer in a hospital even though the sight of blood makes you nauseated and you’re not interested in medicine, that will come across in your application. Believe me, college admissions counselors have seen it all before and they know when you choose classes or activities solely because you think it will look good on your application. So don’t sign up for advanced chemistry even though you hate the subject and will be lucky to pull a “C” in it. Don’t make yourself miserable trying to play a sport you don’t enjoy because you think it will make you look well rounded.
Admissions officers aren’t looking to fill a class with well rounded individuals. They are looking to build a well rounded class. That means having some students who are well rounded, but plenty of students who are “well lopsided,” too. You can get into a great school even if you aren’t a varsity athlete or involved in student government. Follow your own passions and let them shine through in your application. Show that you spend your time outside of class on the things that matter to you, not the things your mom told you to do, or the activities that one senior last year who got into all eight ivies did. So if you love art and drama, don’t feel forced to get involved in the math club or chess club if neither interests you. And when you put together your class schedule, take the most challenging courses you can handle, which generally means take the toughest classes in the subjects you love and can do well in if you apply yourself. If you need to take one class on the regular track instead of honors or AP to keep yourself from getting burned out, take it in a subject you are less passionate about. Yes, colleges want to see that you challenge yourself, but they’re not looking for proof that you’re a masochist.