Writing about Extracurriculars
CollegeAdvisor.com (formerly Bullseye Admissions) presents its webinar on Writing about Extracurriculars in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with a Bullseye advisor. Our presenter will provide information about what to include, how to prioritize details, how to be concise, and more. Our advisor will share information about filling out the activities sections of application portals and writing about your extracurriculars in supplemental essays.
2020-09-20 Writing About Extracurriculars
[00:00:00] Welcome everyone. As you guys come on in, we’ll start in about a minute so that everybody has time to enter into the big marker webinar room. But today we’re going to be talking about Writing About Extracurriculars in your common applicant. Which is always a big topic that people want to know more about.
All right. So it looks like we have just about everyone in, so we are going to get started. So again, welcome everyone. This is going to be one of both sides, admissions webinars, and the topic for today’s webinar is going to be writing about your extracurriculars. And the common application. 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 Q&A tab.
So in your audience view, you should see a Q and a tab with a big marker. You can post all the questions that you guys have in there, and we’ll answer some of them during the Q and a, and then. Yes. During the presentation, we’ll also talk about some of the services that bulls-eye offers to help you guys with your applications.
And if you click in the handouts tab, you can actually download load our slides from this presentation, too. Just to introduce myself to you. My name is Amanda Horn and I am a senior slash master student at the Massachusetts Institute of technology. I completed all of my courses in electrical engineering and computer science for my boxers.
And right now I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree in [00:02:00] cybersecurity and for fun, of course, pre pandemic. I always love watching Broadway musicals whenever they come to town and also skiing in the winter time test is also here for tech support. So feel free to message tests. If you ever have any technical issues throughout this presentation.
This is going to be all about how are you describing all of your extracurricular activities on the common application? So throughout this presentation, I’m going to be giving you my strategy that I use on the common app. And to start off with part one of that strategy, before you even consider opening the common application, write everything down, write everything.
And the reason for that is because usually when you open up the application, something inside your mind to start getting stressed out about the application process. But before you even go into the [00:03:00] application process, write down anything and everything that you can think of, if you did an activity, for one hour, one day, Write it down.
If you were the president of an honor society, write it down. Anything that you did, whether it was a, really a, it had a lot of depth to it, whether it had a lot of breadth to it, whether it was a recurring activity or a one-time thing, write it all down because this is going to become really useful. Later on some of these things might include activities, leadership positions, volunteers.
Overcoming adversity facing a medical situation, overcoming a disability. In some cases, awards that you won in school jobs that you and your family have had different family situations, such as challenges that you’ve faced due to COVID research. There’s all these different things that you can possibly have experienced before applying to colleges, but make sure to write it all down and include all of them.
Because later on, you’re going to be looking at all of these [00:04:00] details and deciding which of these details you actually want to put on my application. And it’s important that you don’t forget anything. So write down all the details and if you’re ever wondering geesh, I only did this, two times and all of high school.
Should I even write it down? If you’re Downing it? The answer is yes. Write everything down and you can make it a Google document. You can make this in a Microsoft word, doc. PDF, whatever you would write everything down because you’ll reference it later. So the next part of the strategy is to really decide overall with your college application.
What do you want to convey to the admissions officer? What is your story that you’re wanting to tell which aspects of your life are you wanting to. Maybe these are your upbringing in your childhood. Maybe this is when you moved to a different country. Maybe this is how COVID affected your life.
Everybody has different aspects of their [00:05:00] life that are impressive, that are emotional, that are really core to who they are. And this is what admissions officers want to know. They don’t want to know like the numerical stats about you. They want to know who you are. And that you can actually succeed in college, right?
Those are the two check boxes are really cool person and a person that can succeed in college learning at a difficult rate. So decide which aspects of your life you actually want to include on the application and what you can utilize. That’s the reason for part, one of my strategy, look at your everything document, look at all the things that you’ve done throughout your whole lifetime, all of the different aspects that there are.
And decide what you want to include. Typically what admissions officers look for is passion, because they want people who are passionate about something in the world. They look for depth as well, because they don’t necessarily want people who just do things, [00:06:00] one time or another, they want somebody to really be dedicated to it.
So a lot of years in an activity, a really. Impressive experience that you had such as traveling the world that can sometimes be an impressive experience. And they’re also looking for variety. If you are really passionate about robotics, definitely put your robotics activity on there, but don’t necessarily make everything about robotics, unless there’s nothing else you’re passionate about mention that you play an instrument.
If you do mention that you also play a sport, right? They want to see that there’s variety. But the things that you really enjoy, you enjoy them deep and you are passionate about them. And then one other, just thing that I thought I would mention, because it’s oftentimes what I find is that people are trying to think about, okay, what’s the best thing.
What are all these little niche things that I can do on my application that will increase my chances of being here. So sometimes [00:07:00] they think about, okay, what major I want to what I want to major in undergrad could affect that, but make sure your story is consistent. So for example, if you say on the application that you want to major in chemistry, but all your activities are related to investments and business and finance they’ll the admissions officers will see.
Okay. I don’t really know why this person wants to major in campus. And their passions don’t align with the major that they put on the application. That’s one example of where your application is not consistent. So make sure your story is consistent with what you put on every other part of the application.
So part three, which is probably the hardest part of the overall common app activity strategy is what do we put on the application and where do we put it? There’s so much, we’ve decided we want to include. In our story that we’re telling admissions officers, but there’s only [00:08:00] so much information. They can actually fit into the limits of the common application.
The one thing, if there’s one piece of advice that I want you to really take to heart out of the session, it is to not let the common app restrict you on how you tell your story. And what I mean by that is oftentimes people think, okay, there’s the. Then there’s the activity section, then there’s the additional info.
And based off of that, they’ll know who I am, but in reality, there are so many other things that the admissions officers use to really get to know who you are. In addition to the activities, personal statements and additional info there’s supplement essay questions, but some colleges app there’s optional portfolios for tech projects you’ve done, or music that you’ve performed.
There’s your teacher’s letters of recommendation and teachers letters of recommendation. Do not have any limits on word count. So be sure to [00:09:00] utilize that there’s also additional letters of recommendation that you can use, even if it’s not a teacher. If it’s someone that knows you really well, let’s say robotics coach, or a doctor or someone else who really could give it give info to the admissions officer about a certain aspect of it.
The admissions officers will actually read those letters. And then of course, there’s the interaction that you have with the admissions office yourself visiting colleges, emailing admissions officers about your interests, following up with them after you visited the campus, these are all things that are a little bit different in the age of COVID, but there’s still things that you can utilize and especially interviews two interviews.
Typically if the college offers an interview, they’re wanting to get to know you a little bit. So utilize all these different forms of information for the admission officer to actually get to know who you are now, given that there’s all these different sections that you can just that you can tell the admissions officer about yourself.
One thing you want to [00:10:00] do is avoid repeating the same thing on multiple parts of the application. And the reason for that is. If you are really trying to use the application to its advantage, and again, not letting the application restrict you on how you tell your story. If you end up putting how passionate you are about robotics in an activity, but then your coach also talks about your passion for robotics and his additional letter of recommendation.
Let’s say that might be an area where potentially you could put a different activity in the activity sector. And still have your robotics coach talk about your passion and your leadership on your robotics team. So if you’re one of those people who are really stressed about, oh my gosh, I have so much to fit on this common application.
How am I going to fit it all really ask yourself, are you repeating information anywhere on your application? And if you are repeating it, is there a reason why you’re repeating it? Sometimes repeating things might be good if you’re [00:11:00] really trying to nail that. Into admissions into the minds of admissions officers.
Like if robotics was the only thing you care. You can write your whole application, your essay, your letter of recommendation, your activities all about robotics. But if you’re trying to really tell the admissions officer that you’ve done a bunch of different things, and you want, you think you want to pursue your, the next step in your education at this college, because X, Y, and Z think about really utilizing the different forms of the application to give a sense to the admissions officer who you are in different ways.
And the key question that I always ask them. Is when writing specifically the extracurricular activity section I asked, does this aspect of me take any more explaining for an admissions officer, really, to get to know this aspect of me, because keep in mind, typically admissions officers take a 10 minute read over your application and they’re onto the next student.
So they don’t have hours and hours to [00:12:00] sift through every single word that you use. They take a quick look at it and they move on to the next. If let’s say you were the president of a club and you were, and you led a new initiative, if you’re putting that description in the description of one of your extracurricular activities on the common app, maybe that doesn’t necessarily need anything more.
But if let’s say in one of the extracurricular activities, You’re putting that you volunteer for the epilepsy foundation every single year. But the reason why you volunteer for that is because of a sibling who had epilepsy and you are really close to that siblings. So he means more to you that might take a little bit more explaining.
So potentially you could put that activity in a different part of your application. Maybe have a letter of recommendation. Maybe make it part of your personal statement, maybe put it in the additional info section, but if something doesn’t necessarily take more, explain it, you can [00:13:00] keep it in the activity section or keep it for the interview if you’re running out of activity.
But if it takes more explaining, utilize the application as best you can. So we’re going to want a poll. Have you started your common app activity section? If you go into the poll section of the big marker webinar, then you can answer there’s a bunch of different options, but have you guys started your common app activity section yet?
See a couple of votes coming in now. Okay.
Looks like, yes, it’s in progress is the current winner right now. We’ll give you guys about 10 more seconds to keep filling it out.[00:14:00]
Five. Yeah. It looks like the winner is no, but I’ll make a common app account after this session. So yeah. But remember what I said, first thing before you make that comment app account, write everything down on a separate sheet of paper. Even before you get stressed out about this common application, right?
Everything down on a separate Google docs, Microsoft word, document, something like that. That’s that you can refer back to it when you actually start filling. All right. So moving on. So we’re going to take a deep dive now into the actual activity section of the common app.
The strategy that I just gave you guys is a little bit more zoomed out when thinking about the whole application and how the activity section is a part of your whole application. But now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty with the actual activity section of the common app. So as far as the details of the activity section of the car, You have a maximum of [00:15:00] 10 activities that you can put.
Now, this is a maximum, you don’t need to spill up all 10, but you can keep them on. If you want to tell admissions officers something about you and you think it would be best described as an activity, definitely utilize the space that you have, but 10 activities maximum for each activity, you list the position or leadership title that you held and what organization it was.
And the limit for that is 50 characters, which can sometimes be difficult if let’s say you were in a high school club and your sophomore year, you were the secretary, but your junior year, you got nominated up to vice-president and your senior year, you’re the president. You have to fit all of that in one, you don’t always need to put every single thing in the leadership title or the position section.
And instead of saying treasurer VP and president of club XYZ, You might just be able to put leader in the club, X, Y, Z, and then in the description, talk about the different [00:16:00] positions that you held throughout each year. The description does have more characters, but still it’s not a lot. When you consider all things said it’s 150 characters per activity.
So the activity description, and believe me, this comes those characters go by before you know it, you will be out of characters. What I would always recommend. Is fill out the application on a Google document or Microsoft word documents first, and then try to type your description in. And if common app says that it’s too many characters, then start solving the sub problem of being able to limit your character counts down to the actual limitation that the common app path 150 characters also keep in mind, you can often use different words that mean similar.
And the description that might be less character. Cause remember this is not 150 words, so this is 150 characters. So each character does count. The different fields that you’ll need to fill [00:17:00] are the activity type. And you’ll see an example of this later on, but you actually indicate the activity type.
So was it music? Was it sports? Was it some competitions? Are there all these different options with the common app? If you need to indicate what grade levels you purchased? And the time of the participation. So was it during the school year, was it during school break or was it all year long? You also need to tell them how many weeks per year you spent and also how many hours you spent each week.
And then sometimes just for a poll and for the for admissions officers purposes of knowing who is most likely to be doing, which types of activities in their house. They do ask you whether you intend to participate in a similar activity in college. However, this is not binding at all. If you do robotics in high school and the college has a robotics team and you say, yes, I intend to participate in the activity.
And then freshman year you ended up not participating in it. They’re not going to boot you out of university. This is just for their information [00:18:00] and for trying to best judge what the incoming class is gonna look. Okay. So this is the whole view of the common application that you guys will see.
So you have your profile, your family, your education, and your testing, and next comes the activity. So this is the section you’ll go to it’ll then ask you, do you have any activities that you wish to report? And if you do, you will say, yeah. And then and then you’ll be able to see all the different yeah.
On the common app and fill each activity entry out. So we’re going to go and I’m going to show you an example of what some activity entries look like. So this is the view that you’ll get when you actually are adding a single activity, you’ll see activity, number one. In this case, the person listed the activity type as other clubs slash activity, the position and leadership description that they used was founder and executive director.
See the voices. [00:19:00] That’s a really good example of how you can be within the character limitation, but still have the same point come across the admissions officer, instead of saying founder and executive director of see the voices, they just said founder and executive director comma be the voices. So my guess is that they’re probably close to the 50 character limit in that case, then you’ll see that you, that.
They described, built, see the voices.org to facilitate cross cultural dialogue, et cetera, up to 150 characters. And they indicate what grade levels they participated in. And this is and you can choose multiple different options. And you’ll also be able to list in the description if you were pursuing this activity before ninth grade.
So let’s say if you played violin or piano, your whole life. You’d be able to put in the activity description, played piano or violin since age four or since second grade or whatever it is. [00:20:00] And then down the bottom, you’ll also see that they have to check which time of the year that they participated.
And they, that she’s selected all year that they participate in this activity. So for an example of the description, so one of the. Is national young arts winner performed at Carnegie hall, all Northwest and two times Allstate principal flute. First in-state solo contest, Salem youth symphony. So this has a lot of information in it.
So let’s be compiled up. So right here, that they’re in nationally on arts winner. That’s an award right there that they won. So they didn’t necessarily have to list that as a separate app. Of themselves on another activity, they included it in this one all altogether and concise performed at Carnegie hall.
That’s very impressive when it comes to actually being a musician. So admissions officers will be wowed [00:21:00] by that all Northwest and two times all state principals flutes, that probably has to take some reworking right there, because if I had to guess they probably started it out. Member or achieved all Northwest and all state principals fluke two times, but that took up a lot more characters, so they had to narrow it down.
So they ended up doing all Northwest and the ampersand. Instead of Andy, you’re allowed to use that if you need to. And then two X instead of two times because that’s always that’s that can always save a ton of care. So using ampersand instead of, and doing X for time. So three times, three X, four times for us, and also whether or not you include commas can always be a strategy that you use when you’re trying to limit your character counts for each entry.
Then first in state solo contest, that was a competition that they did in the state level. So they indicated how they performed that competition. And then [00:22:00] also sale. That tells an admissions officer right off the spot. Oh, they were a member of the Salem youth symphony. So they purchased participated in concerts all the time.
So this will be, this is an example of a really good description that highlights every single thing they want the admissions officer to know about their involvement with it. Yes, sir.
So we’re going to move to another poll. So do you know what activities you planned? Okay, add in your activities list.
Do you know what activities you plan to add in your activity list?
Looks like a lot of you say yes. I know some of them.
We’ll get it. 10 more seconds for [00:23:00] votes to come in.
Cool. I know it looks like, yes. I know some of the 10 is the winner with approximately 60% of you guys, so that’s awesome. It’s great that you guys know some of the activities that you’re going to want to do. Remember when you’re thinking about which activities would be the best, ask yourself that strategic question.
When I list this activity, as one of the 10 on the common app, will the admissions officer be able to know everything that relates to the activity that I want them to know? Or does it take a little bit more explaining that’s outside of the 150 character? All right. So moving on to the next one. So the overall strategy for specifically your activities is to, again, remember what story you’re trying to tell the admissions officer [00:24:00] and think about where extracurricular activities lie in that story.
It’s about what you’re passionate is. Maybe you discovered your passion through it. If it’s about a business that you created and your your future ventures as a an entrepreneur, then talk about your startup that you created, but you’re, you have a maximum of 10 activities and your first activity should always be the most important one.
The one that you want the admissions officer to be wowed by. So if this was, your startup great. If this was. Being a musician. Great. If this was participating in robotics and finding your love for computer science, great. Whichever it is your first activity is always going to be the most important one.
If you have more than 10 activities, though, you can always tell admissions officers any additional information about yourself and the additional info section. And this includes other activities, because if you did a [00:25:00] lot of action, And still managed to get good grades. That’s a powerful story that shows the admissions officers that you have good time management go.
So just because there’s a limit of 10 doesn’t mean you can’t use the application to do the application. You always hear the expression, use the test to take the test. Now I’m going to say, use the application to fill out the application. There’s all these different sections and never be afraid to tell your story in whatever way you see best fit.
Be descriptive with your words. And this can really come back to help you. When you think about the actual character limits of each activity. If you, for example, if you’re saying created my own company, great, you created your own company, but if you want to spice it up and jazz it up a little bit and make it pop out at the admissions officer, you could change it with by adding a few new words and change it to invented a new product or service and launched my own.
So invented that word pops out at admissions officers. What did you invest? You invested a product or service. That’s [00:26:00] more descriptive for them and launched my own startup. Launched it. When you read that word, when you hear that word, it just sticks with your brain more. So launched my own startup tells them you’ve gone through all the steps of making your company official, going through investors and VCs to get your first round of funding, all of that type of stuff, which is really.
Again, one of the really important things that I said in in the original strategy for your application is you want to demonstrate passion because when you’re passionate about something, these studies show that you are that much better at doing whatever you’re passionate about compared to what you’re not passionate about.
And admissions officers want to see people who are passionate. That’s a really big thing that in all the info sessions that I attended when I was at. The, they always came back around and said, do what you’re passionate. Tell us about what your passion is. We want to hear about your passion. So demonstrate passion in your activities, demonstrate dedication to, because a lot of [00:27:00] times, different clubs, different organizations, different startups that you launched different competitions take a lot of times.
So make sure you’ve described that dedication that you did talk about the amount of time per week that you put it. Talk about the new initiatives that you do. Talk about all of the behind the scenes work that you have to do. And then also represent commitments. What admissions officers are wanting to see is that when something gets hard, you’re not the type of student tobacco.
So that’s why activities that you participated in. That’s why activities that you have participated in for a while and consistently, and repetitive ones are typically stronger than one time. Because they represent that you’re committed to that club. You go to the weekly meeting, you get through the pre-competition strep all of the time, whatever it may be, they want to see that you’re committed because in school, when you’re taking classes in college, if something’s hard, [00:28:00] you’re not just to be able to give up because that class is going to be a requirement in your degree.
So they want to see passion, dedication, and commitment. And then of course tell them when you go above and beyond the typical member of that, Include the leadership positions and what your responsibilities were include the new initiatives that you led include. All of the awards that you got in that include all the information that they would need to know in order to actually understand how much you were involved with that activity and what role it played in your life.
Another golden rule that you guys can always assume is never assume an admissions officer knows what you’re talking about, unless you directly. If you think that an admissions officer will automatically know that you spend 30 hours a week on your first robotics team before FRC regional, they are necessarily are not necessarily gonna know that, but if you tell them, but 30 hours per week in the three weeks leading up [00:29:00] to FRC regionals, then they’ll know and problem solve.
So never assume that you know that the admissions officers knows, know what you’re talking. So some mistakes to avoid. These are this is another question that I’m often asked is what mistakes do people typically make on the common application? So one sort of ground rule right off the bat is not to include activities, classes, or grades from middle school, unless it continued into high school somehow.
So like I said, if you were playing the violin since second grade, Tell them that you’ve been playing it since second grade. But if you played the violin the one year you had to do orchestra in elementary school in fifth grade, don’t necessarily include that if you didn’t continue, because really admissions officers are interested in who you become in high school, because that’s the stuff that’s most relevant to what type of student you’ll be.
If they were to consider you attending their [00:30:00] unit. Avoid accidents. That’s another really important thing that a lot of people tend to forget about is admissions officers do not know every single acronym in the world. They do know some common acronyms, such as INFF until national science fair or first for first robotics, for instance, inspiration recognition of science and technology.
They know what those means, but if you’re trying to tell them that MMT all stands for the Midwest, Metro, Tennessee. They won’t have any clue about that because that could easily stand for, the middle Missouri th the middle Missouri trivia league, right? It could bend for anything at that point.
So if it’s not a really common activity, don’t use an acronym. And that’s something that if you choose to work with sides, you can ask your bulls-eye buzzer about ask them whether you can leave. In in an acronym and whether it officers will know with all what you’re talking about [00:31:00] that.
So if you don’t have to an activity, you, as I mentioned, you don’t necessarily need to fill up all 10 spots. You don’t necessarily need to include a one-time activity just because you’re missing out on filling up the tent. Remember admissions officers want to see dedication, passion, and commitment. And if you’ve only been dedicated, passionate, and committed, To eight activities.
They’re going to want to see you talk about those eight activities rather than talking about those eight activities and also adding into other one-time volunteering that you did. And then of course, when it comes to filling out the time the time aspects of each activity, like how many hours per week and how many weeks.
You said it use your best estimate, but make sure to do a final mental check before you submit your application. And this is something that you’re both advisors should go through with you is make sure that you don’t have over 24 hours per day of active. [00:32:00] When you consider all activities during the week, because then admissions officers will know that.
And some admissions offices even write write a small script in a computing language to actually calculate that for them and flag the applications that have more than 24 hours per day of activity. So make sure to do your math and also make sure to be realistic. If you say that, okay. I’m not over 24 hours per day, but I do 23 hours of activities.
They’re going to have to know that eight hours typically is spent in school for public schools, for private schools, for homeschool, that might be different, but then you also need sleep in order to not get sick. Cause when you do, when you get sick, you can’t do anything. So there’s a lot of common sense that goes into the minds of admissions officers.
And there’ll be able to tell if you’re bluffing something or not. So don’t. All right. So at this point, we are going to transfer over to the question and answer mode. So throughout the [00:33:00] presentation, hopefully you guys were able to put some Q and a into the Q and a tab. If you were able to feel free to add any questions that you want answer Institute aids have.
Now I probably won’t be able to get through all the Q and a, but we’ll get through as much of them as we can with the remaining time. Approximately 15, approximately 25 minutes. All right. So no questions. Okay. There we go.
Okay. That’s a good question. I was a team captain for a sports team, and I had to try to relieve some conflict between teammates. How do I read it? That’s a really good question. And that’s something that when you’re thinking about your overall application, think about what you want to be telling admissions officers.
If you are perhaps writing your personal statement about how you grown to be a really [00:34:00] strong leader, this can be a really good example on how captains have to step up as a leader. And when two teammates aren’t getting along, they need to draw the line and say, Hey guys, cut it out from the same. We’re working, we’re rowing in the same direction in maroon together.
So maybe that could be a detail in your personal statement. Maybe that could be something that saves for an interview. Sometimes interviews ask what’s the what’s the time when, tell me about a time when you and a teammate didn’t necessarily get along. You could talk about when you and a teammate didn’t get along, or you could talk about when two other teammates didn’t get along and you, as the captain had to.
There’s all different ways to talk about it. So think about your overall application strategy and decide where you think it would fit in best. And if you need more help, you can talk to your advisor about that. Should you choose to work with Boza? All right. If I was class president for two years at one school, then switch schools.
Am I still able to list the position? Good [00:35:00] question. So if you switch schools, that’s a really, that’s a rare situation, but a lot of students do. Have that scenario. I would mention that in the additional information section, because while you could list it as a while, you could list it as an extracurricular activity.
What might be the best is if you continued being in a class council or being the class president at your new school, that would look really good because it would show that despite being in our new school, you’d be able to continue that leadership position. But perhaps, because you were class president at one school for two years, but then you switched schools.
It might look like you’ve started out with one activity, but didn’t necessarily continue it. But if that’s something you want to clarify with the admissions officers, tell them in the additional info section, I was able to be class president for two years, but then some unfortunate situation happened and I needed to move school.
The student government slash school president [00:36:00] fall under the activity section. Yes, it does. If I didn’t complete any activity all the way through, should I still talk about it? So only, the answer to this, but if there’s a reason why you didn’t necessarily get through your whole activity, let’s say if it was due to an injury in sport or if it was due to COVID canceling, it definitely mentioned that because of there’s some situation that you were not in control of that stopped you from really pursuing your passion from continuing that action.
And you should tell admissions officers that because if you don’t, they’ll assume that you decided to stop and that it was your decision. Not that you wanted to continue it and that life just didn’t let you for whatever reason be it COVID and injury, whatever the case may be. Let’s see for the MIT specific application, did they not use the common app?
Do you have any advice about what MIT is looking for with extracurricular acts? I hear listing could negatively reflect on [00:37:00] your application. So for, so yeah. Am I see, does not use the common application. They’re considered a supplement application, which depending on if you choose to work with full sides, depending on the package that you purchase, you get so many supplements included.
MIT is really looking for, again, people who are passionate about something, people who are dedicated to their activity. And people who are committed regardless of what may come up and be in their way. So yeah, MIT is not necessarily looking for you to give them a resume, even though they only do have four activities eliminated four activities on the application.
They’re not looking for you to necessarily talk about any other, all the other activities we did, unless it’s part of your. If it is part of your story, then put the additional activities and the additional inputs actually, MIT also has a similar, additional info section. I think the word limit is 500 words for the MIT application with that.
What’s the main difference between activities and honors. Good question. So activities is something where you are [00:38:00] actively participating in the activity you chose to sign up for the activity and you chose to run for a leadership position and get along. Or you chose to be you accepted a slating if they do it via slating.
But an honor is something that typically you’re given either you are given an award for the highest GPA you are given a, an award for getting, such a high score on the PSVT for the national merit finalists. For national merit scholarship finalists, you are given. An award for your science research by university or by, an organization like the Intel national science fair.
So really the difference is that activities you choose to do it versus honors. Somebody else typically gives it to you because of what you’ve done. If you pecked, if you participated in a competition and won a big prize in your incentive, Can you put it in the activity section, if it’s related to an activity that you are still doing?
Yes. [00:39:00] But if it’s not, unless it’s a really big part of your story for some reason because of this big prize you won in seventh grade, all of a sudden that made you want to major in something completely different. And here you are today, following that path, unless it’s, it has a really big impact on you.
I wouldn’t necessarily include anything. Let’s see. We’re going to take a break from the Q and a now go back to we’d just have one thing. So here is all of our next series that on our foundations that bulls-eye is offering. So the next so we’re basically as we take a break here, I want to let you know that bulls-eye has partnered with NCF.
And we have a bunch of these free resources, basically that can help you with your college app. And all of these webinars are one of those free resources. We also have essay guides on our blog. We have pages on our website featuring different [00:40:00] colleges and what’s required to their applications. We have blogs written by bold by advisers who went or go to that school.
Upcoming this month, we have a new set of webinars that are here to specifically help you build your help. You build your foundation for applying to college. So I’m going to send you guys a link and let’s see you guys should see an offer there pop up on your screen. So that’s basically a list of all of the new webinars that we have.
And the next one is going to be from on Tuesday from eight to 9:00 PM Eastern time. And this will be actually a college panel on the university of Virginia, which is outsider our set of 10 college app focused webinars, but it’s still part of our free bulls-eye webinars. So I encourage you guys to attend that.
All right. So we’re going to, we’re going to continue with our Q and a [00:41:00] for the remaining, probably 15. Okay, when should we start filling out an account on the common app, as soon as assuming that you’re a senior this year, as soon as you’ve written everything down on what I like to call your everything document that we talked about in the beginning, then start your common application.
Are you supposed to include letters of recommendation in the essay? Not in the essay. So letters of recommendation are separate from your personal statement, essay on the common app, your personal statement, essay on the card. Is all about you telling admissions officers who you are as a person. What have you gone through?
What personal journey have you gone through? What are you passionate about? They want to get to know more than just your sat scores, your activities and your steps. But a teacher letter of recommendation is separate from them. That’s something that’s basically where your teacher talks about you and how you’ve stood out in his or her class or how you’re motivated and [00:42:00] really passionate about this one thing.
You can talk with your bulls-eye advisor about what the teacher should include in their letter of recommendation. Do I list the activities that have been canceled due to the coronavirus depending on the scenario, maybe, or maybe not? So this year for the common application, there is a optional 250 word response that you can give answering the question.
How has COVID impacted your life? And if there was an activity, let’s say for instance, athletics, and you were supposed to be the senior captain, maybe that’s the place that you can talk about how you were supposed to be the senior captain this year and the season got canceled because of coronavirus.
But if it’s something that you participated in a lot up till now, and to some degree they’re still happening, I would still include it in the activities. Okay. You can decide based on whatever other information you’re, you’ve gathered that you want to actually share with your story to admissions [00:43:00] officers.
But if it’s something that you think needs more explaining on why you were set to be the captain, or you were set to really have the culmination of your experience in senior year, and then COVID happened, I would explain it in that optional section about probate instead sediment activity. What if my ECS one of my extracurriculars do not line up with any, with your major because of the lack of opportunity in your area.
So I’m going to break that question down into two different parts. So one, what is your extracurriculars don’t line up with your major. So in that case, think about why you’re selecting the major. If you’re selecting something that your activities don’t really align up. You should tell admissions officers about that because it could be, maybe you’ve done, let’s say physics research all along and in senior year, you had a moment where you realized you didn’t want to do physics.
You wanted to start your own business and solve the problem without in the world for a lot of money. You should tell admissions officers about [00:44:00] that experience, perhaps make a part of your personal statement, but because normally if admissions officers see your extracurriculars not lining up.
They might red flag that and say why are they wanting to major in chemistry? If all they’ve done is finance and business activity, but you can always tell them more about the situation. That’ll explain to them why you’re wanting to do a different major. The second part of your question is because of the lack of opportunity in your area.
That’s one of the really important things that I always tell my students. Don’t assume admissions officers know that there’s a lack of opportunity in your area. Yeah. So admissions officers are regionally assigned to applications, but most likely they aren’t going to know every single thing about your specific school district or your specific community or your specific, talent and how they were impacted by the hurricane or whatever it may be.
So if there’s a lack of an opportunity, explain to them that there’s a lack of an opportunity, you can do this in the form of admissions. You can put it as a [00:45:00] two liner, like to two sentence description in your additional info. You can do that in a lot of different ways, but never assume the intermissions.
Officer’s going to know why there wasn’t a lot of opportunities in Europe. Also just to expand on that one, one more. If there aren’t a lot of opportunities in your school or in your area, but yet you seek out those additional opportunities. Let’s say travel an hour or two, a university each week to do research with a professor.
Tell them that. Instead of just saying I didn’t university, I do research with the university professor, tell them I drive an hour out there in back each week to do research with. Because otherwise they’ll assume that it’s the norm and you, what you want to tell them is that it’s not the norm in your case.
If I have a sport club or if I have a club sport and a school sport, how do I include both? I’m a leader and if you have leadership in boats that’s also a part of it. So yeah, in that case, I would just make that one second. [00:46:00] On the common app. Since if you play club soccer and you played varsity soccer and you were the captain for your club soccer team and the varsity soccer team, then what you can say is you can say soccer player or leader on soccer team.
And then in the description you can say captain for varsity soccer, senior year and junior year, captain of JV soccer sophomore year also captain of club soccer, ninth grade through 12th. Fourth grade through 12th grade, whatever the case may be, but you can include different forms of the same type of activity all under one activity than the comments.
Same thing if you play like the example we saw in the PowerPoint previously they, she did a lot of stuff with bio, with flute in her music career. But she still listed it as one activity. All of the different things that she did see. The school symphony that she played in the awards that she won, the competitions that she placed first in [00:47:00] Carnegie hall, playing there, all that stuff.
That was the one activity. Is there a certain way to phrase descriptions about activities that’s most effective? Yeah, I would say use really good words to describe your act. So the example that I gave, if you were starting your own company, don’t just say created my own company. They invented a new product that, and launched my startup.
Something like that invented and launched are really descriptive words that in another in and of themselves, describe a lot, all in one word, which could possibly save you some characters too. What I always recommend is going to be a sore spot. And if you’re using, let’s say created and you can’t come up with a new word for created search created in these in these, the stories, that’s a tongue twister and then look at what synonyms are there.
Oh yeah. What’s my favorite musical [00:48:00] Phantom of the opera because it’s the orchestration part. If I if I started high school in grade eight, because of how my school is structured, should I include activities from that year? All my classes were grade eight or, oh, all your classes in grade eight or grade nine activities.
So for your case, consider your high school years as whatever is put on your high school transcripts. If eighth grade through 12th grade is high school for you, then go into grade, but typically in public schools and private, yeah. Ninth grade through 12th is high school. So that’s why we say nine through 12th.
But if your high school officially puts your grade eight or classes that you took in grade eight that were grade nine, if they put them on your transcripts, consider that high school, it’s an activity only lasted a couple of months of the year. Do I need to specify this in the application? Yes. So in the application for each extracurricular activity, they’ll ask how many hours per week did you spend it?
How many people per week, [00:49:00] how many weeks per year? Did you do this activity for, so you need to tell them how many weeks you did it for our sports, a good topic for an essay. So that can be a whole different discussion in and of itself. Essay should really bring out your personal statement should really bring out all of the things that are not already on the application and your activities, your grades, your test scores, your family information.
They should really be a story that you’re telling admissions though. So if sports is your life and your passion and your whole world revolves around sports, definitely go for it. If you’re applying to a sports analytics program, for instance, maybe that would be a good essay to write it up. But if you’re applying for a computer science major or a business major perhaps it could be if you’re really passionate about it, but think about whether there’s something that’s more powerful that you’d want to talk to your bosses.
How do I emphasize my nonprofit experience over 80? When others have just started their non-profits junior or [00:50:00] senior year. So how you emphasize that is by telling the admissions officers and the description of the activity, how long you’ve done it for. Say for over eight years, I volunteered at this non-for-profit or over the course of eight years, I’ve built this non-for-profit that does X, Y, and Z, whatever the case might be for you.
That was in multiple theater productions with the lead in some and ensemble and others. So those go under one activity type basis. Yeah, you could, in this activity, you could mention theater cast member as the name of the activity. And then you could mention maybe the musical names or the play names that you’re involved in and mentioned that you occasionally or sometimes did have a lead role.
Okay. You read that everyone is writing about COVID you have to write about COVID. You don’t have to write about COVID. No, it’s just that a lot of people have been impacted by COVID. I would recommend taking advantage again, use the application to fill out the application. I would recommend taking [00:51:00] advantage of that optional COVID section.
If anything, at all, whether it’s not being able to play your. Whether it’s not being able to perform in culture because concerts got canceled, whether it’s a course was canceled because funding, guts or race, all of a sudden from this non-for-profit when donations went out, whatever it may be, tell them how COVID impacted your life.
But no, for your personal statement, you don’t have to read about COVID should our personal statement mentioned one activity or should it mesh together multiple activities. So personal statements as the name implies isn’t necessarily about an activity it’s about. So if your life revolves around that an activity or most activities, then you can talk about it.
But if your life was around how your grandmother got sick with cancer, that doesn’t necessarily have to do with any of your activities, unless you put one of the activities is taking care of your grandma. If you’re, if the thing you want to tell admin admissions officers is about how you dealt [00:52:00] with, life in your school.
When there weren’t. Okay. Physics classes being offered and you wanted to do physics. So you went to a university that’s not necessarily related to your personal that’s not necessarily related to your activities. So personal statement should be about those story. You want to convey to the admissions office.
So think about that. If you are a leader in the Republican group, do you recommend adding it or leave it off? So I’m going to generalize this and say anything political. Don’t necessarily be too strong politically, either way right. Left or right. So it’d be too political because some admissions officers, a, it could be that the admissions officer reading your application could be the total totally have totally opposite political beliefs as you and might get, might take it out personally, or they could be thinking about is this person like me to.
Protests on campus. Should you know, the election come one way or another, or is this person likely to be very involved and be talking a [00:53:00] lot on social media about politics, right? They really can view it anyway. So try to go light on politics. If it’s necessary to put on your application, how do you decide what were the most important activity?
Look through your everything documents. Think about the story that you’re wanting to tell admissions off. Think about what activities align with that story relating to your passion, your dedication and your commitment, and then choose, make sure to order them in the ones that are most important to you.
This could be with the goal of impressing admissions officers. It could be with the goal of describing your story to admissions officers. You could have a lot of goals, but make sure to put your activities in the order of most of them. As being an Eagle scout and staying in Scouts from fifth grade through 11th grade, a good most important activity.
So I would say that’s a good activity since you’re probably involved with are a lot, but on most important activity only you can answer that. [00:54:00] Is there another activity that really aligns with your personal story a lot, or were you inspired by your Eagle scout project? And that’s why you want to major in whatever major you want.
What if you don’t have a lot of leadership activities on your list, do you recommend quickly finding activities for leadership? I do not recommend quickly finding activities for leadership. So there are a lot of schools that don’t necessarily expect you to have leadership in your active. And you should think about when working with your bulls-eye advisor to select your schools, that you’re applying to reach target and safety schools, you should think about how your activities and the leadership positions you’ve had fit into that.
But really it’s about finding the college, the best fit. And there are a lot of colleges out there that don’t expect leadership activities to be on there and would be impressed with it, but don’t necessarily find an activity just to find an activity at that point. It’s not necessarily a strong one with a lot of depth.
It’s one of those extra fillers that I talked [00:55:00] about with what not to do. So I wouldn’t recommend quickly just finding one. Can you expect the honor section of the common application, how it differs from the activity? So I looked through the difference between honors and activities, or things that you opt in to get involved with, but honors are awards or distinctions that are given to you by somebody else.
So because of your GPA, you get an award for honor, because. Your commitment to your first robotics team and the fact that your coach put you in for the Dean’s list competition, you got a D plus finalist award, but first robotics you signed up for that. That would be an activity. If you dedicated a lot of time to feed her outside of class, should you bother writing up?
I would say only, the only, what would be the best thing to write. But if you’re passionate about something, if you dedicate a lot of time to it, then I would think that you’re committed to it, which would be a really strong indicator. So that depth aspect I was talking about, [00:56:00] is there a section where you can include links to articles, photos, big question.
So I, what I recommend with that, I actually did include a link to an article in my application, find the URL and just put the URL. In the description of the activity or in the additional information section. And if you’re looking for photos, then make it a put, put your photos on Google photos and make it publicly viewable for anybody who has the link.
And then just include the link there. Who do you suggest to write recommendations? I heard you’re only allowed three professors, mentors, et cetera. The people who write your recommendation should be the people who know you, the best teachers who have worked with you a lot. And teachers who have a lot to say about you are the really strong recommendations.
The limit is on the common application as far as how many you can include, but definitely include the strong recommendation. So at this point we are out of time. [00:57:00] But I just want to thank everyone for coming and listening to this presentation. If you have more questions and answers, you can always feel free to get in touch with me.
You can look up my email on the bulls-eye site. It’s Amanda dot H at dot com. So if you have more questions, you can always feel free to get in touch with me. And if you want to work with an advisor like myself, consider joining with. We have a ton of different packages available that you can use, and we’re all in this together, and we’re here to help you fill out your application and show admissions officers how amazing you are.
So again, thank you so much for attending up next will be our update on the university of Virginia on Tuesday.[00:58:00]
2020-09-20 Writing About Extracurriculars