What Really Counts in Getting In

Two types of participation made it more likely students would end up at elite colleges: yearbook or school newspapers and “hobby clubs.” (The authors regretted that there was no breakdown on the impact of various hobbies, so it is unclear if photography clubs do better or worse than chess or other topics.)

Numerous activities had no apparent impact on whether or not students will end up in college elite or otherwise. School plays, interscholastic individual sports, intramurals, cheerleading, academic honor societies, public service clubs — no impact is clear from any of them.

What does all of this mean? The authors say that their research suggests that extracurricular activities do matter, but perhaps not just to be piled one on top of another for the longest possible list. One possibility the authors suggest is that this data may reflect the relevance of the theory of “cultural capital,” a term coined by Pierre Bourdieu, the late French sociologist. —What Really Counts in Getting In (Inside Higher Ed)