There are many bits and pieces of your college application that add up to a complete package — but few are quite as important as your list of activities. Showing off your well-rounded involvement is essential, especially for high-ranked schools. Here is how to make your extracurricular activities look their best on your college application.
1. Use Your Personal Network
Have your coaches or supervisors be the ones to list out your accomplishments or leadership positions. Make sure they note if you won any awards or were dedicated to the activity for years. These are all important notes, and colleges want to see that you made those memorable impressions on your extracurriculars supervisors and leaders.
2. Revisit Them in Your Essay
Your essay section is a great way to shine and put a little personality into your list of activities or your leadership positions. Writing prompts like “Describe a time when you were challenged” are inviting you to discuss those one or two activities in a more rounded out way.
3. Know What to Include
There are several ways to “test” if your activities are good enough to be listed. For example, you should have participated for at least one semester, though a year is better. You should also have a good attendance or participation record and have a story or two to tell on why you enjoyed it or how it improved your life. Avoid listing extracurriculars that you only did in middle school or grade school. Stick only to activities in which you participated in during high school (though if you began the activity in junior high and continued it through high school, list that as well).
4. Avoid “Padding” and Lying
Overstuffing your list is as bad as not listing any. First, college application evaluators can usually tell if you are passionate about the activity or not. Too many activities can set off some alarms in admissions advisors heads – were you truly dedicated to all these extracirriculars at once? Most importantly, never, ever lie about your participation in an activity. If the college finds that you were not honest in your application, your chances of being admitted are over. In addition, it could get you in trouble with teachers, activity leaders, and even your parents if the admissions officer talks to them first.
5. Rank and Value Them
When listing your activities, start by putting the ones you were in the longest at the top. Rank them based on how applicable they are to your goals. For example, if you are planning on becoming a nursing student, your biology club membership should go first. Then, go by leadership position. If you were the president, leader, or founder of a group, rank it near the top. This ultimately will help you make a better impression for admissions advisors. By knowing the best order to place these activities in, colleges will understand the true you!