We get a fair amount of questions about the activities section of the common app. Our first piece of advice is to start a running log (on a google document and a saved word file) of all of your extracurricular activities starting freshman year. If you’re reading this as a junior and missed the boat, it’s not too late. Think back and type out everything that you’ve done in order. This will be especially helpful when you start writing a resume.
When it comes time to fill out the activities section, pull out your list and start making some edits. You can only upload ten activities onto the website, which looks like this:
Activity Type: (this is a drop-down menu that includes “other”)
Position/Leadership description and organization name:
Please describe this activity, including what you accomplished and any recognition you received: (Max 150 characters)
There are a few more questions, and in those you’ll check a box next to the years you did the activity and write the hours per week and weeks per year you participated in the activity. It sounds more confusing when it’s typed out, trust us that this part is actually quite simple. Then you’ll tell them if you plan to continue this kind of activity in college.
The most important part is choosing which activities you’ll include. Start by thinking about your contributions to the clubs you’re in. Sitting in a French club meeting once a month for a year doesn’t say much about your interests if nothing came of those meetings. Think about the bigger picture you’re trying to paint of yourself with your application. Your ~personal brand~, if you will. If you have more than ten activities under your belt, focus on the ones that are the most important to you, that you spent the most time doing, and that are related to what you plan to do in college. Once you have your activities selected, you’ll fill out the website.
Don’t include anything from middle school
Rank activities in order of importance
Use action verbs
Write out a paragraph (or make a bulleted list) that describes the club and your role within it. Then, edit it multiple times. You only have 150 characters, so you need to consolidate. For example: condense “Pitch documentary ideas, film content, and edit videos” to “Pitch, film, and edit documentaries”
You can move your activities up and down once they’re filled out on the website. If you’re giving that section a once over and don’t like the order or your priorities change, shift the activities around.
If you’re overwhelmed with the application process, we can help. Contact us here.