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How to leverage your CCAs for university admissions?

Which CCAs should you pursue?


May 28, 2024


What are extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities are any activities outside of the regular school curriculum, such as sports, clubs, arts, student government, community service, part-time jobs, internships, and more.


Common Misconceptions in Extracurricular Activities for Admissions

A common misconception is that students need to participate in every club or activity available to them in order to have a competitive university application. However, admissions officers prefer to see depth over breadth, meaning they value sustained engagement and leadership roles in a few select activities over brief participation in a multitude of clubs.


Myth 1: Looking for a Prescribed Path

One prevalent mistake parents and students often make is asking for a standardised approach to choosing extracurricular activities for their children. There's no one-size-fits-all formula for success in this realm. Each student's journey is unique, with varied interests, strengths, and goals. 


Myth  2: The Pitfalls of Overcommitment

Another common misstep is signing up for as many CCA’s as they possibly can without being strategic. These students, driven by a desire to impress, end up spread thin across numerous activities without significant depth or impact. Busy schedules filled with committee work and mandatory roles leave little room for genuine skill development or personal growth. 


In essence, blending in by following a prescribed path can hinder rather than enhance a student's chances of standing out in the university college admissions landscape.


Fostering authentic skills and experiences tailored to individual interests over time is more valuable than conforming to a template of activities. Encouraging students to carve their paths based on passion and purpose sets them apart as unique candidates, poised for success beyond the confines of conventional expectations.


Read more on discovering your passions and interests: 


How to Pursue Extracurricular Activities Strategically 

What is the right way to pursue extracurricular activities for university admissions?

The right way to pursue extracurricular activities is to choose ones that align with a student’s interests, skills, and future career goals. This can create a coherent narrative in the university application and show that the student is focused and driven.

How can students treat time as their greatest asset when engaging in extracurricular activities?

The Singaporean education system is known for its demanding academic workloads. Here, ruthless prioritisation and effective time management are crucial. Plan your schedule meticulously, balancing studies with meaningful CCAs and personal well-being. Don't hesitate to seek help from teachers or CCA instructors, and consider forming study groups for efficient learning.


What strategies can students use to build relationships with mentors?

Students can build relationships with mentors by seeking their guidance, showing up consistently, demonstrating a willingness to learn, and providing value in return, such as assisting with projects or research work.


Rather than wait around, join everything, or join what they think they should, students should make small, educated bets on what they might like and go from there. Finding a passion should be an active, deliberate process. 


Here are some ways to explore extracurricular possibilities:



  • Visit the National Library or your local library branch to find books and magazines on your favourite topics.
  • Explore resources from the Singapore National Archives or the National Museum of Singapore for history and culture buffs.
  • Check out local publications like The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, or The Singapore Motherhood Forum (for parenting-related interests) for articles and stories that pique your interest.

Individual Practice:

  • Take advantage of the CCAs (Co-Curricular Activities) offered by your school, which can cover a wide range of areas like sports, arts, languages, and community service.
  • Many institutes offer subsidised or free courses through the SkillsFuture Singapore initiative. Look for courses related to your interests, like coding, digital art, or creative writing.
  • Consider joining enrichment centres outside of school for specialised training in areas like music, dance, or drama.

Informational Meetings:

  • Attend CCA fairs or orientation sessions at your school to learn more about different clubs and activities.
  • Many youth organisations in Singapore, like the National Youth Council (NYC) or the Singapore Red Cross (SRC), host open houses or introductory sessions. Attend these to get a feel for their activities and see if they align with your interests.

Volunteering and Unpaid Internships:

  • Look for volunteer opportunities through local social service agencies or charities that match your interests.
  • The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) website is a good resource to find volunteer opportunities in Singapore.
  • Consider volunteering at places like the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), or even animal shelters like the SPCA to combine your interests with giving back.

Key takeaways:

  • Focus on quality over quantity: Deep engagement and leadership in a few well-chosen activities is more impressive than shallow participation in many.
  • Align your activities: Choose ECAs that reflect your interests, skills, and future goals. This creates a cohesive narrative in your application.
  • Be strategic, not random: Don't join everything or pick activities you think look good. Explore possibilities through reading, individual practice, or attending meetings.
  • Showcase genuine passion: Pursue activities you're truly interested in. This will lead to a more meaningful experience and a stronger application.
  • Time management is key: Prioritise activities, set goals, and create a schedule to balance academics, ECAs, and personal time.
  • Build relationships: Seek mentors, show consistency, and contribute to projects to build valuable connections.


Interested in reading more about leveraging your CCA’s? 

Check out our Medicine focused blogs:

How to Build Your Medicine Portfolio  


We get it, planning your time and your CCA commitments can be challenging. Especially amidst balancing your academics. If you want help building your portfolio, our Launch programme might be the best bet for you! Get started by sending us a message and we’ll do the hard work of paving the way for you to success. 


Founded in 1999 to provide comprehensive standardised test preparation and admissions coaching for students embarking on their university education.


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