Crafting Your Activity and Extracurriculars List
Extracurricular activities are an important part of the application. How can you craft your best list? Get tips and tricks with CollegeAdvisor.com.
Admissions expert Maria Acosta Robayo will share her insider knowledge on how to build your extracurricular activities list during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including:
– What activities should I include?
– How can I write a strong description?
-What should I do if I have more than ten activities?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-11-14 – Crafting Your Activity / Extracurriculars List
Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Webinar, Crafting Your Activity slash Extracurricular List. To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the, in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panel. Hi everyone, my name is Maria Acosta Robayo and I graduated class of 2020 from Harvard where I studied sociology and health policy and where I was also, uh, a pre-med, um, student. Okay, thank you Maria. Okay, so we’re gonna first start off. Can you hear the back? Um, can you hear me? Yes. So we’re gonna first start off with a poll.
We wanna get a sense of what grade you are in, so please let us know. I already launched the poll, so we’re eager to find out. Okay, so the responses are in, thank you to everyone who filled out the poll. We have 67% of our, um, attendees are in the 11th grade, and then 33% are in the 10th grade. So, so far we have 11 to 10th graders.
Oh, we have a 12th grader as well. Uh, so a good majority are 10th and 11th grade for your presentation, Maria. So I’ll turn it over to you. Great, thank you. Um, Just to kick us off, um, we’re first just going to like set the phone on like what is an activities list. So for some of you who might not know what the Common App is, it is a portal where you get to apply to lots of different schools and put your information in just one place.
And so the way that usually works is there’s like a couple of things that they’ll ask all students to just put there. And then you’ll have, based on what schools you’re applying to, you’ll have like supplemental things you’ll have to do such as answer some additional questions, maybe write a couple essays.
Um, before the main Common App applications, so where you get to send to all schools, you have something called the Common App Activities List, and that’s a tab under the Common App where you can list 10 different activities that you do. And so we’re, we’re gonna be talking about like the ins and outs of that, like what that means, what are some best practices, but that is like the topic of.
So, um, why is this activities list important, uh, an important part of your application? So first it’s just an opportunity to showcase the activities that you love doing. So where do you spend a lot of your time? How have these activities shaped your goals? Um, and just allows you to give the, the admissions officer a window into what you do.
Um, and so it allows you to also, Uh, more qualitative information about how you spend your time and give a window into your personality. So a lot of your application might be some like quantitative things, right? Like your grades, maybe your standardized test scores, um, other things that are less point less to your personality.
Your activities list is an opportunity for you to show some of the things that you’re interested in doing. You also have a section that’s actually like a written description, so you do. A word count to be able to describe a little bit more of what you do and, and its impact on your life, um, or on the lives of.
And then it also gives you a chance to highlight things that you might not have a chance to do in your essays. So maybe you’re applying to a school that only has a Common App essays or one Common App like personal statement, or maybe has a personal statement and it has just one supplemental. You might not have as much opportunity to write about a lot of the things that you wanna write about in your life or all the activities that you wanna write about.
And so this 10 list. Opportunity for you is a way to showcase things that you might not have the space to do in your actual essay. So these are all like some of the pros of having an activities list, the benefits. Um, so what actually counts as an activity, So, Like in a nutshell, it’s really just any way that you spend time outside of your academic responsibilities.
And so obviously like you could technically write some things that are not as important as such, as like maybe you sleep like that is something that’s like outside of your academic responsibility, but really not like a meaningful, like spend spending your time in a meaningful way other than like self.
And so the, some of the like official examples here that you, you’ll see on your comment app is like maybe you do, like, you play, um, you play an instrument, you do any sorts of like arts or music, and that’s one way where you can really express like a creative side of you. Um, and that’s something that you can write on your activities list.
Maybe you’re part of a club that can be both. A club outside of school, or maybe it’s a club that’s connected to school, but the key part is it’s not connected to like a graded class. So I’d say that’s like the litmus test. Like what’s a meaningful way you spend your time that’s not part of a required class.
Um, and so for example, you might do, you might be taking like a chemistry or biology class, but it’s not required to maybe be part of Science Olympia Club. And so that’s a meaningful way you spend your time outside of the. Um, then there’s like community engagement. So what are some of the ways in which you do community service or help others?
Um, family responsibilities. So this is one that sometimes students get a little bit confused on and it’s really an opportunity. Um, admissions officers just wanted to be a little bit more equitable about like, maybe as a student you have responsibilities to take care of. You know, a loved one or a friend, and like this is something that’s a responsibility.
Like you are their caretaker. Like either like your sibling, like you take care of them after they come home from school. And maybe that means you can’t go to like soccer practice or you can’t go to like an orchestra rehearsal. And so they wanted to allot this time to give students an equitable way to show ways that they spend their time outside of school that might not be like a traditional like hobby or like sport or, you know, like an event.
So then, um, after that you can also like write any hobbies or sports. And that can be like anything that’s from being like an amateur like, um, athlete. So like for example, like maybe you love to like, just like go do 5K’s or you run like half marathons, marathons. Like obviously like that’s a very serious sport, but maybe it’s not linked to like the formality of being on like a club.
Or like a JV or varsity team. And so sports in general just allows you to do something that’s maybe not as linked to like a formal institution. Maybe something you do more independently, like run half marathons or like run marathons. And also give you the leeway to write things like maybe being part of like a school club, um, like sports club.
Um, the other, um, bullet here, it’s work or volunteer. So this is both paid and unpaid or just like opportunities where you get to go and volunteer in the community. And so sometimes that can mix with like community engagement. Um, but it is an op, You can choose either of the two depending on like the nature of the activity.
Um, And then other experiences that, uh, have been meaningful to you. And so that opens it up a little bit more to like, okay, maybe it doesn’t fit completely into one of these categories. That’s another dropdown that like will allow you to, um, be able to list something that doesn’t totally encompass one of these categories.
So how many activities are on the Common App? So you can include up to 10 activities on the list, but you can keep in mind that you can still include other extracurricular activities in your essays if you run out of space. So if there’s something that’s very meaningful to you and like. Maybe you like don’t have enough space for it.
Like obviously when you’re, We’ll talk more about this, like how do you rank your different activities, but maybe there’s something that you just wanna like sneak in there that like you’ve done and that has shaped your life, but maybe like lasted very little or like, you know, doesn’t compare it to like maybe some of the other activities that you wanna write.
You could sneak it into your essays. Um, and just the caveat to that, like it shouldn’t be like, you know, a resume listing of like, oh, like I need to put this in my essay. It’s more so like, does it flow well into the story? And like, is this something that isn’t just like a random, like little drop of like knowledge about some, a way you spend your time, but really something that’s gonna add to the essay.
So we’re gonna talk a little bit more in a couple slides about like how to, how to relate the activities list and the essays. Um, so how can students choose which activities to put on their lists, especially if you have more than 10? So I would say prioritize on four different things. The first is the depth of involvement.
So how like, How much do you participate in this activity? Like how engaged are you? Um, that can sometimes come through like the number of hours that you spend on it, but also just through like the level, like for the level of like engagement. So what I mean by that is like you might spend a hundred hours doing something, but maybe it’s just like pro processing paperwork.
Right. For a volunteer opportunity, that’s a lot of duration. So that might be in like the, the third category of like years of experience or time and experience doing them. But depth can maybe be more like instead of processing papers, maybe, and let’s say in this context, like you’re, you’re volunteering at like a clinic instead of processing papers.
Maybe you are like helping to. You’re, um, delivering like foods or like gifts to patients or you’re like transporting like different like materials and getting to engage with like doctors, right? That’s a level of engagement where it’s not just like you’re in an office processing papers. You’re actually getting a chance to have more, um, exposure to like a career, to patients, um, to different facets of your activity.
And so that has greater depth of involvement, um, leadership level. That one’s a little bit more self-explanatory. Is this an activity where you’ve gotten a chance to lead others, where you’ve gotten a chance to be in a position where you have a lot of responsibility? Um, and so a clear example of this is like, you know, did you, um, get elected on a board for a club or did you become like a team captain or assistant captain, or.
Something that shows, again, a level of responsibility, years of experience is what I was alluding to before of like, how long have you done this? Like maybe what it, hopefully it’s a mix of like both depth and like years or like length of experience. But sometimes it’s something that like, You were just like very consistent in doing your whole life.
And that still matters a lot, right? Like that took a lot of time and it shows like a level of commitment that is a good character trait to show. And so you do wanna index on that where possible. And then fourth is just like evidence of diversity and interest. And what that means is that maybe you don’t want, or you shouldn’t just write about like one facet of your life.
So even if you play lots of sports, like make sure that you’re giving like love to maybe some of the other activities that. So think more critically about like, how can you show that you’re a well-rounded person who like, great, like if, uh, if part of your application is like, you’re a, like very well-rounded athlete, like, awesome, put a lot of sports there, but also like make sure that you like, bring in other dimensions of your life that maybe was like ways that you serve the community, ways that you expanded more on like some of your academic goals.
Um, so those are the four that I would just prioritize as you’re thinking through which activities to put in your.
Okay, so we’re gonna take a short pause because we wanna know where you are in the application process. So we know most of our attendees tonight are in the 10th and 11th grade, so we’re curious to hear. I am going to launch the poll now. Let me see. Okay, so let us know, um, perhaps you are in the phase of your researching your schools, or maybe you’re getting an early start on working on essays, getting your application to material together.
Let us know where you are. Okay. I see the responses coming in. . And of course we have, you know, 78% of our attendees are researching their schools, uh, followed by that. We have 12% that are actually working on their essays. So that’s great to hear. 12% is getting their application material together, and I know we have a senior here, and that senior I would assume is almost done as we have 2% that are almost done.
So congratulations on being almost done. Okay, Maria, I’ll turn it back over to. Great. Thank you. So, um, our next question here is how can students group multiple activities together? So if, let’s say you’re in a, in a bind, where like you have lots of activities you wanna talk about, but you only have 10 slots and you don’t know how to pick and choose, but some of them might be really similar.
There’s a couple. Um, there’s not like hard and fast rules for how to group them, but there’s a couple like parameters that you can follow or some like best tips for how to group them together. The first is like something to do, so do think about activities that share common themes or that would fit under like an umbrella activity.
So an example here is like, let’s say like you love to cook, you cook meals for your family, you host dinner parties, you teach cooking lessons, you do a lot of things related to cooking. So you might wanna group all of these into like a broader position, cuz the way that this is structured is like you’ll write a position that you are in and then you’ll write like an organization name.
And so a position can just be like amateur chef, and you use the description section underneath that to add like the varying details about like how do you. How do you engage in being an amateur? And so that is one way to be able to, instead of just writing like a specific snippet of how you engage with being like a cook or a chef, um, you’re actually like using it to, because independently those things maybe won’t have as much like information or details or even hours spent.
But if you group it all together and it all makes sense and it’s one common. Then you’re able to provide a more like, robust example of how you’re an amateur chef. Um, the other, uh, thing I would say is like, what not to do. So don’t group activities that individually highlight different leadership positions or skill sets.
So for example, like you don’t want to dilute, uh, or to dilute something that’s like really special. So let’s say you sang acapella or you sang for an acapella. That went to nationals and you made some of the musical arrangements, right? Like that shows both like just prestige in like the activity that you did.
It shows, uh, depth of involvement. It shows leadership as you arranged, like some mu some you did some of the musical arrangements. It also, it falls under the category of music vocal. , and that’s like a category that’s a dropdown on the Common App. So if you did that, even though it’s about singing, you shouldn’t mix that with like, let’s say you’re part of a group that con that like every year goes Christmas caroling at a nursing home, right?
Like that’s a great community service activity. It’s something where like you’re a participant. Um, and even let’s say like you were leading that, like that’s such a special opportunity that you wanna put that separately. One is like music, vocal is a category. The other one is community service, and your actual like details of the activity are actually pretty different.
Like one is a competitive group, the other one is more of like a hobby. One is more community service oriented. The other one is more like prestige oriented. And so I would definitely be very careful about like, if you’re trying to highlight something through your activity, don’t dilute it by combining it with another activity that has a different set of like characteristics that you wanna high.
Um, so what makes for a great activity description? So I’ve mentioned quite a bit that like, you know, there exists the activity list, you different ways to like, work around it, but like, what should you actually or to, to work, to work it in your favor? Right. To. Pick the right kind of activities to think about how to group them together, but how can you actually make for a good description, like once you’ve selected which ones you wanna talk about, how do you describe it?
Well, so the first thing I would say is just the bottom line up front. Make sure that like you are describing what you do in this activity. The reason for that is that sometimes, especially if you’re use, if you’re talking about activities that are a little bit out of the norm, like being an amateur chef, um, it’s actually something that many people might not know about.
And so you can’t just assume that your admissions officer knows exactly what your activity is. And so you might wanna just start off the line with like, you know, what exactly it is that you do. Then if you wanna add more, like, like, I guess evidence for the activity, you would include some quantitative highlights.
So this is just including numbers. So instead of like, let’s say you are, um, organizing like a community service event. Don’t just write like you organize a community service event. Like talk about like, okay, how many items were donated, how many people participated, How much money did you raise? Right? Like give some numerical evidence to kind of sprinkle on your activity to give it a little bit more.
And the third is something that I like to do. This is what I, I did on my own activities list and something that I try to do with a lot of my students list is try to have like a, a small like snippet or like phrase at the end that’s just like an impact based conclusion. So what I mean by that is like right how after you describe like what the activity is, try to link the end part of that description to how it’s had an impact on either you or others.
And. If you’ve looked at the activities list, you know that like there’s very, very little word count for this description. So how do you fit all, all these three in here? Again, first, use the first part of a phrase to just describe what it is that you do. Like if you are like an athlete, like in a specific team, right?
Maybe like you are a point guard on your high school basketball, right? Like that is your, like that, that is what you do. Then maybe you write like the number of tournaments you went to, right? So your point guard in your high school basketball team, which has gone to nationals five time, uh, four times in a row.
Um, and then maybe you are like, This is true of, of one of my students, um, activities list. Like he was, he got injured in a season so he couldn’t write too much about like what he did numerical wise cuz he missed a lot of the season. But he still went and like cheered on his team. He was still a big part of like team life.
Um, And so one way that we wrote a little bit more about how, how he participated on the team is we talked about the impact that he had on like the relationships and like cohesiveness of the team. Like he increased like team morale. He was there to like mentor, especially young, um, the younger students on the team.
And so we were able to craft like a way that this was impactful for him and how he impacted others. Um, so that’s just a couple examples of how to put some of these tips into practice. Um, so now we talked about like some of the ways to highlight or to like really make your description shine. What are some of the ways that actually like our mistakes that students can make on activity descriptions?
So the first one is, I, I alluded to this before, but assuming that missions officers know as much as you do, so again, writing some. Something and thinking you are connecting the dots, but really when you read it to somebody else, it’s, you can’t really tell like, what is it that you’re doing? Like what is like your participation in it.
And so, um, a tip that I give a lot of my students is to just like, have a friend or a family member read your description and just check if it flows and if it makes sense. Like, are you making logical conclusions? Are there things that you’re not writing down, like maybe you write. You know, some like very obscure like word that doesn’t make sense, Like that wouldn’t be common knowledge to an admissions officer and maybe there’s a synonym for that that you can use instead.
And so those little fact checks are just helpful to really just make your, your description a little bit more accessible. And then the second one is to, uh, another mistake is being vague. So some students decide to like, write about like what the. Is and does, but doesn’t really. But they don’t really write about like what you do in it.
So like, for example, my example about basketball, I didn’t just say like, you know, I, like I am a player on the team. Like I wrote, I am a point, like a specific role within the team. And then like, how many competitions did you go to? We went to Nationals four times where we placed blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And so I. Something that commonly gets a common mistake is like you start writing about the activity itself and you start framing it in the, in context of like, you know, this activity, this happened, right? And it becomes more of a narrative. But what you’re describing is more like, what is your specific engagement in this activity?
That’s what the description is. And so start off with like what it is and then what you do in it. Um, so that’s a key part of like writing more about your, your. Um, so like I mentioned before, the activities list is, the activities list is just one more, um, like thing within your broader application. And so how do you use it in conjunction with other parts?
So the two main things that I wanna highlight here is how do you use it in conjunction with your essays, um, and how you use it in conjunction with your a. So in relation to essays, um, sometimes, like in your essays, like you just don’t have the word count to like talk about all facets of your personality.
And so you should try to tie in like a couple mile posts of like, maybe this activity helps me to highlight X or y like character trait that I really wanna show my admissions officer. So maybe instead of writing very broadly about like, you know, I. You know, I’m a leader. I like to like see others’ needs, um, these like broader characteristics, like talk about like what’s a specific activity that you do and like what have you learned through it and how have you showcased that characteristic through that activity.
Um, and then another way that you can use your list. In conjunction with your essay is you can actually have the peace of mind of like forgoing writing about the number of hours or other like quantitative things that you already mentioned on your Common App list. So for example, maybe you really wanna describe like how invested you were in like a specific sport.
Like you don’t have to, you can write about the impact of the sport in your essay because now you just have the freedom of knowing. Like in my Common App, they know I, I. Engaged in this activity for like X number of hours. Um, so it is just, again, it kind of balances. Balances off each other in like, highlighting different things that you don’t have to highlight in the other anymore, um, in conjunction with academics.
So the activities in your Common App should be, again, opening windows into other interests that you have outside of the classroom. And so it gives the admissions officer an opportunity to learn more about who you are. Not just as someone sitting in a class, but someone who is like participating in an activity.
Someone who’s engaging with others, someone who’s investing their time and energy into pushing something other than just getting a grade. Um, and then another way that it can be used in conjunction with academics is it also helps to provide more evidence for maybe like a specific intellectual interest that you.
Through your coursework. So let’s say like you really, um, you’re a, like for myself, like I was a premed applicant. That was my profile. Like I said, I wanted to be a doctor. I took biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology. One way that I showed like, Hey, this, this isn’t just me like pursuing an intellectual interest.
Like it’s really something I’m very passionate about. Um, I actually did like a shadowing program at a local hospital and I volunteered at a local hospital. And part of the shadowing program was I gotta go into like, um, emergency rooms. Like I got a chance to be in, uh, several like operations, just like shadowing the doctors and operations.
Obviously never involved in it, but just watching inside the OR and. It just showed like, wow, like it wasn’t just that I took these classes and like got a grade in them. It was like I actually applied, I was able to better understand anatomy and physiology because I was like, you know, being in conversation with these doctors or seeing patients go through some of the procedures or addressing the diseases that I would read about in my classes.
And so your activities list can add more evidence for like something that shows up on your transcript like a.
So some parting advice that I would give to students about their activities list is make sure that you’re writing about things that you’re passionate about or to highlight a character that you really wanna share. I think sometimes students like get a little bit into a bind about like, Like what series of activities will make me look more competitive?
And the truth is, is like the activities that you really love and passionate about are usually the ones that have the most hours spent, that you’re usually the have the highest depth of involvement. Usually the ones where you spend the most hours and have done for the longest. And usually where you would seek out like leadership opportunities because you love it so much.
And so I would say like if you focus on things you’re passionate about, naturally it will probably lead to the activities that you should put on your Common App. And then the other thing I would say is just think through all the ways that you use your time outside of school. Because there might be an activity that like doesn’t fit into the traditional like categories that you’re thinking about, but it might be something that like, you know, was like something undiscovered that you were like, Oh, I actually spend a lot of time like, you know, helping my sister with homework or helping like a friend with homework.
And maybe like you realize like actually like I tutor them on this subject. I, That’s something that you can write about of like, not only do you learn this class, like learn information on this class, like is there’s peers, Like maybe you were someone who’s consistently like at lunch, helping peers better understand something.
Maybe that’s something that’s not very formal, but you’re in a sense tutoring them on that class. Um, and so I would think a little bit more broadly about like, how have you engaged with others? How have you made an impact on others? How are you spending your time? And if you see one, a pattern and two, something that is like meaningful to you or impactful, that can be either a part of an activity or an activity in of.
Okay. Thank you Maria, for sharing, um, all this great information. This now concludes the presentation portion of our webinar. So now we’re gonna move into the live question and answer how it’s gonna work. I, I will read your question out loud for Maria to respond. I will also, uh, paste it into the public chat so that you can see it.
If your question and answer tab is not working, um, just please log out and log in through the link that will sit in your email. Okay. So our first question that we have is, can these activities include hobbies you are growing in, or does it have to be something that is already established?
Sorry, can you repeat that? You went out a little bit. Activities include hobbies you are growing or does it have to be something that’s official or already established? Maybe like I would assume, like established club or, Oh, got it. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, so I think that like any of these hobbies, especially some of the examples that I gave are like, some of them are very formal.
Like there are some established clubs that you are just a part of and maybe you grow in examples of that can be like Science Olympiad, um, Academic Bowl, a sports team that’s already part of your school. Um, HOSA, like different clubs like that. Or it could mean like something that you are starting out in.
So like maybe you started like your own club. Maybe you started like participating. Like the example of the amateur chef, like that’s something that was like very like homegrown. Also like a different variation of how to interpret your question is like, is it some, do you have to list something that you are already like have done for a long time and that you’re in leadership in?
Or is it something that like you can do, even if you’re like, it’s your first year doing it. And I would say like having a variation of that is good. Like you should have several that are like something that you spend a lot of time on, something that you’ve like already been a little bit more established in.
Um, but it’s totally fine. Like if you started playing an instrument your junior year, like there’s like, maybe that’s something you’re highly involved in now, but you know, you can’t take back the time that you didn’t do that and that’s still some, a meaningful way you spend your time and it’s relevant, right?
It’s something you still continue to do. And so I would say have, the way I think about this is maybe like your top three, three to five activities should be things. You either show great depth of involvement, great duration, great leadership, great impact, and then after that, start listing things that like, you know, maybe you haven’t done for that long, but like was impactful to you.
Um, so I would say as much as possible try to fill out your list. And that might include putting things that aren’t as like long duration or long or like impact, but it just helps you to showcase more activities that you’re a.
Okay, so our next question, I have a Common App account, I would assume maybe a junior or sophomore. Um, can I fill out portions in advance before a specific application or no? Yeah, so the Common App comes out August 1st, and so one thing to keep in mind is like you. If you want to write, like start working on things like you can copy questions over into like a Word doc, but you can’t actually write on your specific year’s Common App until August 1st of your senior year.
And so I would make sure that you’re not like saving things on your Common App because unless it, unless you’re currently a senior, like you’re not, that’s not gonna be the portal that you, the. Portal you use, like there is actually, like the website shuts down for a little bit while they refresh and reboot while they ask questions.
And so if you wanna start working on some aspects such as like your Common Apps, uh, such as your activities list, then you might wanna copy that over. And I know with, um, CollegeAdvisor, if you’re working with an advisor, your advisor has a spreadsheet that you could use to start filling that out. And it again has like the same like categories of like, how much time do you spend, like your description, your role, and so that’s something you can just copy easily, copy and paste later.
Okay, so what if, um, the student, a junior, has little leadership experience and not much time to add more to their schedule, they’re already booked with, between academics, music, and sport. What do you, what’s kind of your recommendation for the student? Yeah, so I would say like, if, if you find yourself in that position, definitely like, think about.
Writing, highlighting the ones that you do have leadership in and just being realistic about like, okay, maybe like your activities, like should be focusing more on like the diversity of things that you do. Like that’s one way that you can kind of stand out compared to others. Like if you’re saying you are like you have a lot of your time is already taken up, that probably means you’re engaged in a lot of other activities that you can write about.
If you’re focusing only on academics and your time is already held up. I would say think about like, especially, I mean, if you’re a senior now, that’s a little bit harder. Your classes are set, but think about like in your senior year, how do you wanna maybe. Dive a little bit further into the activities that you started that like you’re doing now as a junior or a sophomore, and try to plan your classes accordingly.
Or like how can you start like maybe doing your standardized test preparations so that you can just, like, instead of using that time your senior year, you can start already using that time in an extracurricular. And so what I would say is it’s important to have some level of leadership in some things.
That again, doesn’t necessarily mean that like you have to be a captain or leader of everything, but try to find at least one thing where you can display leadership. Um, don’t worry, like there’s so many other factors, right? Depth of involvement, um, duration, diversity of, of activities. Like those are things you can index more on.
But do try as you’re finding like your balance between academics and extracurriculars to see if like there’s an opportunity to apply for a leadership.
Okay. Um, when talking about things we are passionate about, I could talk about, Let me read, kind of read this question one more time. So, when talking about things we are passionate about, I could talk about things I craft are mostly things that are school related. Mm-hmm, um, it, so just right is the question.
They’re basically asking the, the question is reading, like, you know, they’re talking, so when talking about things that we’re passionate about, they’re basically asking like, should they talk about things that they’ve crafted? Or maybe like things that are like school specific related. Okay. I see. So I, Well, first you can’t, like, I wouldn’t use like, um, things that you are doing in your classroom, ne like this is supposed to be meaningful ways that you spend time outside of like academic, like classes.
So it could still be academic related. So I just wanna make that distinction. Like, you could do academic clubs, like I just mentioned, like science Olympiad, like HOSA, like math club. All of those are like academic clubs, but just wanna for sure make a distinction between. Time spent on, like for example, studying for a test is not an extracurricular time working on a project for school, unless it’s like a service project or something that like impacts.
Outside of your classroom, Like those things are not extracurriculars. Um, so if you are doing an academic related extracurricular make, like there, there’s no need to like do one or the other. Like you could do like write your academic, um, like clubs in there, but then also talk about like some of your crafts, right?
I would say if you only talk about crafts, you’re missing out on like the diversity of writing about your academic clubs and vice versa. So I would. Again, if the question is either or, I would say like that’s a like false dichotomy. Like you can write about both. You have 10 slots, you can probably choose a couple from each.
If it’s about like how to write about both, I would say again, focus on those four, um, like elements or like things to index on of like depth of involvement, duration, and impact.
Okay, so next question.
I know, I know you touched on this a bit, but how much space should the description of what the club slash extracurricular take up compared to the rest of the things that you put on there? I would say you put on the application. Sorry. So the things that, how much should, what take space on the, how much space should the description of what the club slash extracurricular is take up things that you put on there.
Got it. So in context, so just framing this for everybody, um, so if you only have a certain amount of word count, like how do you balance how much you talk about, like what the activity is versus like your impact. So I would say the best. Descriptions are ones in which like, you can talk about what you’re doing as you’re describing like the, the activity.
So for example, going back to the basketball example, if you say I am a point guard on the high school basket, or like on the basketball team, um, and have gone to nationals X number of times, um, and like been able to like, and like, um, You know, uh, worked in like recruiting new athletes or whatnot, like you are describing, you’re, you’re not describing basketball, right.
You’re not saying like, this is a sport played on a court where we dribble the ball and shoot it into hoops against another team. Right. You’re describing your engagement in it. What I, what I recommended when I talked about describe the activity is like for things that are a little bit more obscure. So for example, if I just put amateur chef, Like I need to describe what is actually the activity.
The activity is I love to cook, spend, uh, I cook three out of the three of our five like weekday meals at my home, host dinner parties every other Sunday, um, and take classes from like a chef in like blah, blah, blah, blah. So like that’s a way to describe your engagement within describing like the actual activity, like the activities, like you are engaging in these things.
I would say the added plus that I think a lot of students sometimes don’t do is add, like, the impact. Um, and again, sometimes you just can’t, like, you don’t have the word count to do that. Like sometimes you just don’t have the, the chance to write like, You know, I meant, and like mentor these students that have like been able to grow into like the captains for next year.
Like that might not be something that you conclude, but it’s like a cherry on the top that you can do at the end. That’s why I put it as like a concluding like addendum to that description. So the main thing is how do you describe your personal engagement in activity? Things that can help that shine more is putting quantitative details.
So instead of saying like, I compete, you are at, like, I have been to three national tournaments, right? Three, you’re describing the type of tournament. Those are like more quantitative like evidence. And then lastly, if you have a chance putting like a concluding remark about the impact of the activity.
Okay, thank you. So just to clarify like the previous question, um, our attendee gave a little more clarification. Um, and so basically I wanna go back to that question, the question that we were talking about, like when talking about things we were passionate about, could I talk about things that I’ve crafted?
or mostly things that are school related. So basically they wanted to say that they’ve been crafting stuff and they wanted to know should they basically talk about that so they craft and build things outside of school. Yeah. Is it to talk about that? Mm-hmm. ? Yeah. So the answer is like, yes, if this is a meaningful way you spend your time and like you can write about like the things you’ve built, like who you’ve given them to, how they’ve like either helped you develop or grow in a certain way or like helped others receive like certain things.
Like those are. Definitely meaningful out outside of school experiences that you should write about. Thank you. And thank you so much for clarifying. We wanted to make sure we answered your question correctly. Uh, so let’s see if you are, or what are colleges looking for to like boost your admissions? So I.
The, the way to think about this is less like to boost your admission and more so like when admissions officers are looking at applications, they’re looking at like, how can we create a diverse cohort of students on our campus that do different things and like help build one another. So I would say with that framework in mind, like they’re looking for people who really love the activities that they’re doing.
So some of the like four indicators that I already talked about, right. Length of. Length of, uh, depth of involvement and length shows like commitment to it, like commitment to the activity and passion for the activity. Leadership shows like a, obviously like you’re being able to take on like high responsibility, right?
Those are key character traits that missions officers are looking for. But again, like the thought isn’t like, Oh, it needs to be, I need to show leadership in sports, or leadership in academics, or leadership in community service. Whatever you are passionate about, like they wanna see your love and like engagement in a particular activity, like whatever that may be.
What I would say is important is to have a diverse, like set of activities. Like you don’t wanna be seen as the only, you only do one thing, right? You wanna be a diverse candidate. That doesn’t mean like all 10 activities have to hit every single category, right? Like you can pick and choose. I think my activities were mostly sports, community service, and.
And academics. Those were the four categories I hit. And a lot of my other friends, like who were, or peers who were applying that year, like were often like between the three or four category. So I would focus more on like, is it, are you having a diversity, a diverse set of activities? Are you being, are you engaging in them?
And like, are I, is there like demonstration that this is something you’re passionate about, but the actual. Topic of your activity, like whether it’s sports or music or like, you know, is it basketball versus soccer? Like those aren’t things that are really like moving the needle on like your acceptance.
Okay. So we’re gonna take a short pause for me to share a little bit more about CollegeAdvisor. So for those who are not working with us, um, we know how overwhelming, you know, the admission process can be. And that’s for those who are working with us and not working with us. Um, our team of over 300 former admission officers.
And admission experts are ready to help you navigate it all in one on one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR code that’s on your screen. During that consultation, a member of our team will review your extracurricular list that you have, discuss how it lines up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth in leader.
After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team. Okay. I will leave the QR code on the screen as we continue with our questions and answers. So our next question reads, uh, do extracurriculars have to be about helping people or community service?
Are, can it be about your journey growing as an individual in high school and the things you’ve done to achieve? Yeah, so I would say your journey as a whole should be something more that’s focused on your essay, like something you focus on in your essay, like how you grew as a person for sure. Like that’s something to write on your, on your essay.
Extracurriculars are specific things that you did. So maybe overall, like anyone who looks at their Common App at their activities list should be able to. Oh, there’s a common thread of like, I grew through these activities, or like, these are the things I’ve been doing for the past couple of years, but your actual descriptions and like you don’t have enough, Like the activities list itself is not the place to talk about your journey.
It’s the place to talk about what are the milestones, like what are, think about like if you’re writing. Like a narrative about your life or if you’re reading a book, right? Uh, if you finish a book from beginning to end, that’s a journey through the book, right? You’re learning through the journey of a, of characters in a book.
That’s maybe something more like, again, analogous to your essay, but if you wanna know like, okay, where did like this event happen? You look at your table of content and you see this is the chapter and this is the, like the title of the. I would say that’s more analogous to your Common App list, or sorry, your extracurricular list.
Your extracurriculars is more like to the point like, this is the activity I engaged in, this is what I did and this is why it was impactful. So the nature of it can be, can be serving a community, it can be. Participating in like a musical group, it can be doing a sport, right? There’s lots of different activities, but the essence of it is more a direct, like, this is how I spent my time versus the essays.
Like, This is what my journey has been.
Okay. Next question. If you are extracurriculars, how do you decide which ones to include? Yeah, so I, um, I think this is something that like, has been a reoccurring theme in both, like the slides and some of the questions of like the four key categories that you wanna index on is like, okay, are there, do you have a diverse.
Set of activities, Right? Do they hit on different, like Right. Music, sports, community service, academic clubs. The second is like depth of involvement. Like how much have you like poured into this or engaged with this activity. Um, the third is length or like the duration, like how long have you been involved in this?
And the fourth is like your leadership. Like how have you taken responsibility and like led others through this?
Okay, our next question, do extracurricular activities have to be what you’re currently doing or can they be past activities, achievements from the past and maybe, um, Maria, if you wanna talk a little bit about activities. that you did in the middle, in middle school, did that show up on your, on your list?
Yeah. So for example, I think you wanna mainly focus on high school, like you do wanna focus on the more recent years, but you could also think more about like, did you, um, like what are some, some of the activities that maybe you started a long time ago and you continue doing. So for example, I put tennis in my extracurricular list because I started in elementary school, but it’s something that I continued on and so it’s something.
Even though, like I, I think I stopped my junior year because of an injury. Like I wasn’t doing my senior year. So it wasn’t quote unquote as relevant that year. Um, it was a past activity, right? I stopped before I did my application. It was still a big part of how I spent my time be like during my high school years.
So the way I would think about it is like, how did you spend your time during your high school years, if a specific. Event or like activity was there that like had started before. Great. I would say if you started and stopped in middle school, I would say that’s not, I, I don’t think like that would be the wisest activity to put on your list because again, it just shows like, okay, like this is something you did years ago, but it’s really not having an impact on your life right now.
Okay. Our next question is, um, You know, what advice do you have? I want to, I’m kind of, kind of paraphrasing this a little bit. Um, I’m in one club, basically, like, do you write about, do you add activities to your list? Like, you may be a part of a club, but you’re not really involved in it. You happen to like, be a member, but you’re, you’re not as involved.
Should you put that on your list so you could, in the sense of, like, for example, I think a pretty obvious example for a lot of people is like national honors. A lot of people get invited or like. So a lot of the students who are National Honors Society were invited but don’t actually lead any activities.
Right. So that’s an honor. So there are spaces on the Common App activity where you can write your honors and so you can write National Honors Society there instead of your Common App list if you were involved. But like. Tangentially. So maybe leave it for slot number nine or slot number 10, just to like add a little bit more of like just to fill it out.
But I think like the important part is not, well, one, not pretending to have done more than you actually did. You’ll have a description where you’ll have to write what you were engaged in, and so you’ll definitely have to like explain like, so if you weren’t really part of it, so let’s say you joined National Honor Society, but you never did anything in it, you would have to be okay with writing like.
Member of National Honors Society for three years or something like that. Um, and I, again, I would say reserve those for honors. If it’s an activity that like is not academic at all, like National Honors Society, like for example, maybe you were, you’re technically on the roster of your JV cross country team, but you’ve never competed, you’ve never gone to practice.
I wouldn’t write that. Um, so I’d say like those are just some grounding examples to kind of help, um, to treat my. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. And just, um, reminder attendees, if you have any more questions, please ask them now as, um, we have one more question that’s in the Q&A. Um, so this question reads, I’m a school pre, I don’t know if I’m saying that correctly.
Um, where I do a lot of different leadership task. What would be the best activity to classify this under? Are you familiar with that, Maria? A school prefect. It’s kind of like doing different responsibilities in the school. Um, and I had to look it up, but yeah, so I think that would probably count as like an academic, um, extracurricular just because it is linked to like, you are doing this activity that’s linked to like helping other students.
So I think you could list that, You could list that as academic. You could list that as like community service even because you’re being a liaison within your student body. Um, and so I think it just depends on like how you want to phrase your description. Like maybe write your description first, see like what ends up coming out as like the most important things that you do.
And then think about like whether that fits more into like academic extra or community service or something else that you might see on the drop. Okay. Um, and then this question reads, Oh, thank you. Thank you all for continuing to submit your questions. Continue to keep ’em coming, uh, for awards and honors.
Should we only put one from high school or grade school as well? And can they be small, random awards as well? So I’ll actually co like, I’m seeing some of the questions here and I’ll actually like combine some of them because they have to do with honors and extracurriculars. So the difference between honors and, and like the honors list, which is five, like a, a dropdown of five things that, five honors that you can list.
And the, the extracurriculars is that the honors are only academic. So whether it’s national, state school, like local. The five things that you can write for honors are only related to academics. So let’s say that you won like your school, um, like competion, your regional like sports competition, that doesn’t go on honors.
Like the description if you go on your Common App is academic reward, uh, awards. And, um, to answer the specific question about like what can go on there, Yes, even small awards can go on there, but just like your extracurriculars, there’ll be a ranking of like, your top choice will probably be something, maybe more, but whatever, whichever award you think is the most impactful.
Um, that can be because it’s at a national level, because it’s very prestigious or hard to get. Um, and so that’s what would go in your like five slots of honors list, so that’s separate from your extracurriculars list. If anything, I kind of jump jumped the gunner, like added a couple things that were not really part of today’s webinar.
Today’s webinar, the topic was the extracurriculars list, which is outside of those academic honors, like the activities you spend your time in that are not part of like your school achievement, like your GPA achievement, your class achievement. That’s what you would. In your extracurriculars list. And so for the honors, yes, write like National lo, National State, local school competitions.
It can be like, you know, maybe you won your school spelling bee in high school. Like potentially like that’s an award that like you can write there, but it could also be like maybe you want the National Spelling Bee also an award you would put there. It’s just the level is different. Um, and again, like if, like the way you rank that is just based on like your set of achievements.
And like which one you think is the most impactful or the most prestigious. Okay. Next question is, as a sophomore with two or more years ahead, what are some clubs or extracurriculars that are good to join and look good to be a part of? Maybe you wanna emphasize, you know, some of the things you shared earlier.
Yeah. So again, this is another rephrasing of like, you know, how do you make your application just like more, um, present or like how do you amplify your application? I would say the framework to think about this is not what activity do I put on the list? And more so like, whatever activities you really enjoy doing, pursue leadership in it.
Commit to being in it for, for several years, like whatever it is that you’re doing. Again, index on the four main categories. Try to do leadership on it. Try to get a diverse, like a diverse number of, of activities. If you’re seeing that most of your activities right now are academic, maybe try for like something musical.
Maybe try out for like a team, a sports team, maybe join a different, like a different type of club. Maybe do more community service, so right. That’s a way to add diversity. So I would say I don’t give answers that are really based on like, well if you wanna amplify your, your list, then like, go do like science Olympia or go do X, Y, Z, because that’s not actually how an admissions officer will look at it.
They will look at, again, level of involvement, depth of engagement, um, like leadership and like diversity. Okay. And the last question is, do we have to fill all 10 slots? You don’t have to fill all 10 slots, but you, you should try to fill out as many as possible. And if you feel like you haven’t, like filled all them out, think about like maybe what are some of the ways that, like you can still, especially if like you’re a sophomore, if you’re a junior, like what are some of the activities you can be involved?
That doesn’t seem like, you know, you just joined because you wanted to fill up a salt. Like just think about like if there is extra time on your calendar, like how can you use that to better help others to grow more in your activities? Okay. Well, thank you Maria, for sharing more about the extracurricular activities list, um, and answering all those great questions for our attendees tonight.
Just a reminder, we have more webinars that are coming up. I actually seen some familiar names in the, in the Q&A, so that’s great to see that we have some reoccurring attendees, so continue. Um, participate in our webinars. Here’s the list of what we have coming up. Every week we have webinars. Um, so sign up and attend and ask your questions.
And also at the end of this webinar, if you did not get the QR code to speak with a member of our team, there will also be another screen that will come up at the end. Um, so thank you all for attending. Thank you, Maria, once again. Goodnight.