Between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and preparing college applications, your schedule is packed. What are your go-to activities when you want to give your brain a night off?  From yoga to comic books, video games to baking, there is something for everyone. And no matter what your interest, the way you approach it can even help you prepare for—and get into—your dream college.

Hobbies and college applications

Colleges are looking for applicants who will be valuable contributors to their campus communities. Learn how hobbies can make your application stand out.

1. Build key skills

Though you might view your hobby as an escape from your studies, pursuit of a personal interest and pursuit of a good grade often reinforce complementary skills. Whether you're wading into a new online community or teaching yourself to draw cartoons, you're processing new information and applying it to unfamiliar situations. Success with a hobby can boost self confidence and can help you with your poise, presentation skills, and even leadership abilities.

2. Relieve stress

Everyone needs a break when they are studying. Hobbies can provide the perfect option to decompress—and do something productive. With a course load full of math and science classes, something creative or physical like photography or gymnastics can be just the outlet you need.

3. Demonstrate important character traits

Getting good grades requires focus, concentration, and grit. So does pursuing an extracurricular interest or craft. Mastering a challenging new skill can offer an incredible sense of satisfaction and help flex your “stick-to-it” muscles.

4. Enhance your high school resume

College admissions officers aren’t just looking for the smartest students; they look for well-rounded ones, too. A well-documented history of your hobbies can help provide that additional dimension to your resume that demonstrates you are a multi-layered candidate.

5. Serve as subject matter for college essays

Looking for something interesting to talk about in your application essay? What interests you outside of the classroom can provide fantastic fodder that will set you apart from other applicants.

  • Choose an aspect of your hobby that can be used to illustrate something interesting about your personality. Maybe learning to knit made you more patient and focused. Or maybe it inspired compassion and spurred you to create a community service project knitting hats for newborns at your local hospital.

  • Explain how you got into the niche and what you find fascinating about it. Do you have a unique hobby like creating Lego dioramas? Perhaps your school didn’t have a Robotics Club, so you parlayed your hobby into a leadership opportunity by starting one.

6. Offer an avenue for earning money

Is it still a hobby if you earn money? Maybe not technically. But from making jewelry to sell on Etsy to dog walking for their neighbors, many teens have found a way to monetize something they love. Not only does it produce cash for college, it teaches you important business skills like marketing, accounting, and customer service.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that when it comes to applying to colleges, your personal brand matters. The majority of applicants who apply to selective colleges fulfill the academic requirements, so it’s important to showcase yourself in other ways.

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