By Violet W
For our high school seniors who are starting to apply to colleges, the activity list is an essential part of the college application. It is where you can describe your extracurricular activities on the Common App, Coalition, ApplyTexas, UC application, and other application platforms.
Any activity that you have done in high school is fair game and can include summer programs, passion projects, school clubs, volunteering, job shadowing, internships, hobbies, after-school jobs, family responsibilities, etc. The activity list is an excellent opportunity to show your skills, talent, and accomplishment outside the classroom.
As you start to craft your activity list, keep these 5 tips in mind.
Don’t use full sentences
Save your character count for words that truly show your passion. You only have a limited character count (On the Common App, you have only 50 characters for the position/leadership description, 100 for the organization name, and 150 for the activity description). Therefore, every single character counts.
Don’t spend your word count when writing the activity description by repeating anything you have already written. For example, don’t say, “As the captain of the varsity soccer team…” Just jump right into your accomplishments. “Responsible for team meetings before games, led team to 2 state championships, and …”
Quantify as much as possible
For example, if you volunteered and raised money for an organization, don’t say, “Raised money for needy children.” Instead write, “Raised $2500 to pay for the school supplies of 100 children in the greater Chicagoland area.” That helps to showcase impact much more effectively.
Use acronyms wisely
You can use acronyms and abbreviations wisely, but only if they are commonly used. For example, HOSA, DECA, VP, and JV are all perfectly fine acronyms to use.
Determine the order
Be sure to prioritize personal importance over quantity of time. The order does matter, so put the activities that you spend the most time on and are the most important to you at the top of the list.
In addition, the Common Application allows students to list ten activities and five honors and awards separately. In contrast, the UC application gives students 20 slots in total for both activities and awards. The Coalition allows you to list eight activities.
Taking time to write an accurate thoughtful activities list is essential to frame your application. It will help the admission officers to understand who you are, what is important to you, and how you have spent your time learning and serving others in your community. Investing time in framing your activity list is an important component and will truly increase the quality of your college application.
(The writer is a college counselor and outreach coordinator with Moonprep.)