Many families ask what activity should they should be doing to help with college applications. While some sports are less competitive with respect to recruiting than others, and volunteering at the library is too common to help an applicant stand out, sadly, there is no magic activity that solves the tough problem of how do I get into college.
Rather than looking for some cure all for the college admissions process, use family discussions about extracurricular activities to explore passions and long-term interests. When it comes to spending time outside of class, the correct question to ask is whether your are enjoying the activity and building life skills. College admissions officers look for a variety of different skills and passions in their incoming class. A valuable college applicant could excel in a niche sport, the arts, or be passionate about conducting research or leading a cause. Colleges offer a variety of programs and odds are that if your child is passionate about something, it is offered at the collegiate level.
Even if your pet project is baking, showing that you can use your love of baking to bring joy to others, educate people about nutrition, or donate proceeds from sales to a nonprofit, shows an ability to make a difference in your community which is far more valuable than joining some nondescript club that half your high school participates in.
College admissions officers search for passionate applicants to be a part of that program in the incoming class. The more skilled an applicant is, the more value she brings to a collegiate organization in that activity, and the more desirable she becomes to an admissions officer seeking an incoming student to add to that organization. You should dedicate time to what you are passionate about and spend time developing expertise in it. College admissions success is based off quality, not quantity.