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I am a 16-year-old from India, and I am currently in my Junior Year of high school. I'm planning to apply to master's programs in six years' time (two years to prepare for a very tough competitive exam for engineering, and four years for undergrad). I would like to keep as many options as possible open during my undergrad in a top university in India, where I can also focus on doing projects which could stand out for an application to a North American university after 4 years.

Apart from doing various projects in undergrad, what other kinds of extracurricular activities would stand out? Would blogs stand out in North American university applications, especially in Canada?

I have other achievements such as a black belt in taekwondo, the ability to play the violin, a silver medal in a karate championship, and a few minor level medals in math. Would they be considered?

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    You're from India, and you want to go to a university in the West? I half expect that unless you're applying to Harvard or something, the main thing that whatever university you apply to will care about is your ability to pay international student fees.
    – nick012000
    Oct 13 at 6:39
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    No, actually I'm going to try for Masters... I still have 6 years as I'm still 16... You can take out two years because I have to prepare for a very tough competitive exam for engineering... So I just wanted to keep as many options open during my undergrad in a top university in India where I can also focus on doing projects which could stand out for an application to a North American university after 4 years... I just wanted to know apart from doing various projects in undergrad, which other extracurriculars stand out Sorry it was related for Masters, not undergraduate programs Thank you :) Oct 13 at 9:23
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    In the future please try to provide all relevant details in the question. I have edited in your clarifications and voted to reopen (as I could not find any existing duplicate).
    – GoodDeeds
    Oct 13 at 12:15
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I deleted my previous answer as it was assuming undergraduate admission.

Assuming graduate admission, and assuming an MS in Engineering (and not say an MBa or Art History), then pretty much everything you mentioned would not count for much. Maybe a little bit, but they would not make you stand out. Graduate degrees are research degrees, so the only thing that will make you stand out is research experience, or deep technical knowledge that will give you a high potential of successful research.

  1. The biggest thing that would stand out is published research. Peer-reviewed scientific articles in well known journals or conferences. Research experience in a lab that did not directly lead to a publication is also good, but not quite as much.

  2. Co-op/internship at companies closely related to your desired research field (e.g. if you wanted to go into Aerospace Engineering, an internship at Boeing or Airbus would be good).

  3. Extra-curricular activities that are closed related to your desired research field (e.g. if you wanted to go into Automotive field, membership on a team like World Solar Challenge could be good. If you wanted to go into Machine Learning, then participating in one of these challenges could be good: https://eval.ai/web/challenges/list).

The first one, publications, is worth way more than the other two, by maybe a factor of 10.

So what should you do now at 16? Well, it is unlikely that you will be able to get any publications in high school. It does happen, but its extremely rare. The other two may be approachable, if know you what you want to specialize in. But six years is a long time, you might change your focus between now and then.

So for now, I would say take things one step at a time. Focus on things that will get you into a very good undergraduate institution. In two or three years you can start thinking about graduate school.

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    Thank you for this valuable information and your time to write this down... I would surely take these things into consideration Oct 14 at 13:57
  • "Graduate degrees are research degrees" Not all of them. The Master's Degree I'm doing right now is coursework-based.
    – nick012000
    Oct 15 at 5:44

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