What do Zombies have to do with the Activities Section? Read on to find out how to fill yours out!

I’ve been thinking about how to describe filling out the Activities Section of the various apps for a while. In so many ways, it’s more of an art than a science, but I wanted to share my resources with you and a few of my favorite tips — and as usual, it got long (sorry in advance). As I was writing this post, I decided I wanted to hear from a few other consultants about how they guide their students to fill out these sections, so I asked a few of my consultant “friends” to share their favorite tips for the Activities Section, and I’ve shared their amazing wisdom throughout the post.

Keep in mind that basically anything that you do outside of classwork, homework, and test prep is considered an activity. That includes jobs, family and home responsibilities, elderly or child care, zombie hunter, personal projects, interests, and hobbies, and independent research, in addition to the more typical research, internships, and in and out of school community service, clubs, and sports.

Here’s what MIT Admissions says**: “**Some students feel so much pressure to get into the “right” college that they want to make sure they do everything right-down to their extracurricular activities. Fortunately, the only right answer is to do what’s right for you-not what you think is right for us. / Choose your activities because they delight, intrigue, and challenge you, not because you think they’ll look impressive on your application. Go out of your way to find projects, activities, and experiences that stimulate your creativity and leadership, that connect you with peers and adults who bring out your best, and that please you so much that you don’t mind the work involved. Some students find room for many activities; others prefer to concentrate on just a few. Either way, the test for any extracurricular should be whether it makes you happy-whether it feels right for you. / College is not a costume party; you’re not supposed to come dressed as someone else. College is an intense, irreplaceable four-year opportunity to become more yourself than you’ve ever been. What you need to show us is that you’re ready to try.”

If you’re still not sure what counts as an activity for your college apps or you want to learn more about whether you should be spiky, round like a ball, or star-shaped — or just how to approach exploring your way to involvement in general, here’s a post I made last spring about ECs and Activities. You might find it helpful.

So let’s get started! I love what u/CollegeEase from Virtual College Counselors says: For activities lists, the description should answer the following questions:

What did you do?

How did you do it?

Why was it important?

(here’s their fun infographic to show how to do this effectively and efficiently).

STEP ONE: Fill out the Big Colorful Activities Spreadsheet (you’ll see 🙂 )

List all activities in these categories. Go crazy here. Don’t worry about limiting it to 10 if you have more. If you don’t have more than 10, that’s totally cool too. (IMPORTANT NOTE: You do NOT have to have something listed for each of these! These categories are simply to get you thinking about what you do have):

Then, for each of those activities you listed, there are 8 columns for you to fill out (Again, you don’t need to fill out all the columns, but they are there to trigger your thinking):

  1. Leadership/Title: Remember leadership is not just about a title. You don’t have to be Captain High School or President Every Club to demonstrate leadership. So, think about how you’ve demonstrated leadership in your life. You can use this leadership worksheet to help you think about the ways you are a leader: in your own life, with a job, in your family, with your friends, in the classroom, in your school, and in your community.

STEP TWO: Once you have this Big Spreadsheet filled out, we can move on to working with the Common App Worksheet (for this post, I’ll be focused here on filling out the Common App Activities list, but I have worksheets in my resource folder for Coalition, Apply Texas, and the UC App also).

  • Use the google doc character counts to help you see how many characters you have. It will save lots of frustration on the Common App. (Tools > Word Count > Character Count)

STEP THREE: Think about where you might need to use the additional info section, to tell them more about what you’ve done. If you have an activity where there’s no way you can explain the importance of it, or quantify all your awards, or go into detail about the important aspects of what you’ve done, you can use the additional info section of the Common App.

  • From u/Kunjanvshah from KS Educational Consultants: “When going through the Common App, don’t forget the Additional Information Section. Take advantage of it to share an in-depth look into who you are. Be creative and make sure it has purpose And it’s put across well!!!”

STEP FOUR: Decide the order you want to show them on Common App. It’s kind of sad to think about, but still think about it like this: they might not finish, or they might get bored, or their cat might jump on their keyboard and make them lose their screen, or they might get frightened by a zombie at the door and spill their coffee. What do you want to make sure they see first?

  • Here’s how I suggest you decide what goes first. It’s a weird mathematical formula — and you know math’s not my thing (although it used to be — in fact, I was the math nerd of my high school believe it or not).

STEP FIVE: Add to the Activities Section!

STEP SIX: Check it out in preview and make sure it looks like you want it to look! Check for typos, capitalization, issues, etc.

That’s it! You got this. Let me know if have questions or just want to chat about Zombies or cats.

Folder with all my Materials Linked College Essay Guy’s Post about Writing Activities Lists

by Bethany from Activities and Awards: Making the Most of Your Character Count Better College Apps

Added by Mark from Better College Apps:

The Life Raft for Extracurricular Activities MrsScholarGrade’s EC FAQ How To Start An Organization At Your School

  • The activities section is important so take your time with it.

Originally published at https://admissionsmom.college on September 30, 2021.



College Admissions Consultant. Mindfulness in College Admissions. Author: Hey AdmissionsMom: Real Talk from Reddit. www.admissionsmom.college

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College Admissions Consultant. Mindfulness in College Admissions. Author: Hey AdmissionsMom: Real Talk from Reddit. www.admissionsmom.college