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Applicant diaries: my extracurricular secret weapons

Are you taking advantage of the different ways you spend your time outside school? Student Megan reveals how she's putting extracurricular experiences to full use in her uni application.

Meet Megan

A-levels: English literature, media studies and sociology
Applying to study: cultural studies and media

In my personal statement I wanted to include as many relevant extracurricular activities as possible.

Not only is this a great way to stand out from other applicants and show I'm a well-rounded person (in addition to being able to hopefully achieve top grades), but each activity is a ready-made example of the skills they're looking for. Why wouldn't I use them? 

Work experience

Over the summer, I found myself some work experience at a design studio in Manchester which was a great overview of the industry I hope to go into one day.

On top of various small tasks, I was given a project to create an online Spotify advert. This was quite challenging as I wasn't used to the software involved. However, finding myself in situations like this which I wasn't used to (and overcoming them) meant my confidence grew so much, which should hopefully come out in my application or if I meet an admissions officer.

Plus, I didn't have to do a single coffee run!

Megan diary - work experience


From a young age, I've been involved in singing and drama productions. From playing the star in the nativity play, to one of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music, I've done it all! 

My passion for performing is something I made sure to mention. For one thing, it demonstrates commitment in pursuing an interest to another level. My involvement in these productions also showed how proactive I am in my local community. A university is going to want to see someone who'll get involved in and contribute to their student community positively, through the likes of clubs and societies.

Plus, talking about something you love is a nice icebreaker in a university interview, to settle those nerves and get you talking.

Paid work

Every Saturday I work in a children's shoe shop. Apart from measuring feet and fitting shoes, I upload stock to the system, tidy the shop and order shoes. 

It's completely unrelated to what I want to study, but working in this environment has significantly helped my communication skills, with children, parents and work colleagues alike - a really positive skill to have.

At times I've found it difficult to juggle schoolwork with my job. Work can be demanding, so flexibility and finding a balance is essential to making sure you get everything done but also leaving yourself with some free time too. This is definitely something that will come in handy at uni, with so much going on and where you don't have parents or teachers to help you manage your time.

Talking about areas you've struggled in and how you've overcome these is a refreshing change in an application, rather than just focusing on what you've been brilliant at.

Running societies

Being involved in activities at college are an opportunity to show you're not just at college because you have to be! 

At my college, I run the Peer Mentoring society, which involves organising other students in finding and mentoring younger students who require extra support. My favourite part of my role is meeting new people I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

More practically, running the society has really developed my leadership skills and I've definitely become more organised myself in taking charge of the society, delegating tasks and balancing it with other commitments. 

Voluntary work 

One of my main voluntary experiences has been with the National Citizen Service, involving the creation of community action projects to specifically help those in need.

My group felt homelessness was a big problem, so we aimed to raise awareness on how others could help.  

Megan applicant diary - charity work

This was challenging as it meant interacting with a lot of people I wouldn't normally, plus finding ways to communicate effectively. Of course, at uni you'll meet all kinds of people, so this is something that will really benefit me once I get there.

Remember that voluntary work doesn't have to involve participation in a large-scale project, from start to finish, and could be as simple as regularly visiting a care home to spend time with residents or volunteering at a local charity shop.


About Megan

Megan Deefholts - applicant diary
Megan is a current Year 13 student, studying A-level sociology, English literature and media studies. In her spare time, she likes to visit design exhibitions, listen to music and act.

Want to share your uni journey like Megan and get some experience under your belt for that personal statement or CV? We're always looking for student contributors to write blogs, film quick videos or snap some pics. Drop us a quick message at [email protected] if you're interested.

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