Yes, yes, we know you’re obsessing about essays and scoffing at the idea of thinking about extracurriculars at this stage (“If I haven’t done them by now, chances are I won’t…”) but READ ON.
While the posts about how to make the most of your summer stressed the importance of Extracurriculars, we realize that a lot of the time, students mess up when it comes to writing about extracurriculars.
Besides the essays, the Activity Section on the CommonApp needs the maximum attention from you. The University of California has a similar section and so does every major alternative to the CommonApp. So whether you are using this particular application or not, the rules still apply. Remember to give this plenty of time because this can’t be done in a hurry.
But first…What is The Activity Section?
A section of the CommonApp that condenses the hours of effort outside of class into 10 activities total
Out of the millions of students who use the Commonapp, how do you ensure that your application stands out?
So if you keep the super fun CommonApp essay away, the application has the regular questions that any application would, hardly intriguing if one can say that! But, if you have spent a major chunk of your high school years sweating it out on the field or actively participating in extra curricular events at every possible level, the CommonApp has a dedicated section called the Activity section, to showcase them and put forth a stronger application and personal profile that will help in setting you apart. But, the trickiest bit is to understand this section and be certain about the activities that you want to talk about and ensure you have managed to leave an impression on the reviewer.
So what are the activities that I can list out?
You can list everything that you have participated in from Grade 9 on. This includes summer activities, volunteer work, internships; both in and out of school and clubs and organizations like speech and debate, music, drama, art, sports and science. The more diverse your list is, the better it is, as you come across as an individual who is open to trying out new things and will continue doing so, if admitted.
How many activities can I list out?
There are ten spaces to fill in activities, however please remember Ten isn’t necessary! Your commitment to the activity needs to come through and not the number of activities. Signs of dedication include an activity participated in continuously or an activity where you have achieved a level of distinction, either as a founder, leader or member; made a significant contribution; or were publicly recognized or won an award.
PLEASE DON’T MAKE ACTIVITIES UP TO FILL THE BLANKS. It is better to show significant participation, leadership, and personal development in 3-4 activities than write about ten activities that you were hardly involved in.
I have more than 10 activities, what do I do?
If you have listed your top 10 and have more activities to add, or feel you want to talk more about a particular activity and were limited by the 150 character limit, then the CommonApp has an “Additional Information” section where you can list these out.
To do a good job:
1. Prioritize. There are 10 spots and they should start in the order of most important to the least. Spend some extra time figuring out which one you want where.
2. Use Space Well. You don’t have too much room so don’t waste it. Write the role and the Organization in the top box so you don’t waste characters and use bigger words. Rather than “Came up with…” say “Developed.” In short places like this, every character counts!
3. Give Quantities where you can. Instead of saying “Collected money for poor” tell us “Collected $40,000 to buy back-to-school supplies for 400 slum-children”
Note: You have a place to provide hours and years so do not repeat.
4. Provide Links. This can also come into the additional information section, but it’s always great to provide a link to something tangible – a blog, a website, a newspaper article or dropbox
5. Show Leadership.You may not be President or Head Girl, but rather than just saying “Member of Football team” tell us how you may have stepped up as a leader by saying “Led football practice and coached junior members of team”
And most of all, be honest and be specific. Don’t lie or exaggerate in an unbelievable way. Don’t over-estimate hours so that the total is actually more than 24 hours a day. We still don’t have time turners.
Hence proven the CommonApp is not just an application form. It needs you to exercise those brain cells, get creative and smart with your words and put forth the best self-brand that you can! So get typing!