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Preparing for College

Extracurricular Activities

As part of your college application you will be asked to describe what extracurricular activities you have been participating in. Since the space allotment for this information may be substantial, you should not panic if your response does not fill all or even most of the available space.

You need to realize that the number of listed activities will not be counted up by the committee, so padding your profile of extracurricular activities can be self-defeating. The issue that is important is not only the nature of your outside activities, but the extent of your commitment to them. In other words, the admissions committee wants to know the importance you place on the individual activities you are or were involved in during your free time. Your list provides an indication of your interests and talents. Since such activities vary widely among applicants, it indicates your potential contribution towardclass diversity. What to include on your list of extracurricular activities is a key issue. By considering those activities that are time consuming, require creative thinking, and demand responsibility you should hopefully find a significant number to formulate an impressive preliminary list.

To initiate your list, note down any activity meeting the above three criteria you have been involved in, along with any relevant details. This includes not only those at school, at home, and also within your community, but you should include work experience on your list, indicating the length of time you were employed each week. This will indicate the amount of time you were unable to devote to classwork or other activities.

In the event of involvement in some community activity, whether of a political or service character, it should be identified and explained. If you gained a commendation for any activity, such as becoming an Eagle Scout, or have been presented an award, this should be noted next to the activity or under a separate heading. It is best not to include hobbies unless they are substantive.

Care needs to be taken in finalizing your list of extracurricular activities. Consider what impression you wish to relate by the way in which you present them. You may wish to emphasize a balance between sports and leadership roles in the clubs you were active in. Carefully select the activity listed first, since it reflects the one you consider most important. This should be reinforced by demonstrating the substantial time and effort you have expended in this area.

In composing the final list, be selective and informative. It need not be an activity you participated in each year. The list as a whole should generate an impression that contributes to the image you wish to create. It should also fit into the image you believe is being provided by any recommendations submitted in your behalf.

Review the application as a whole when you have come to this end point; it is desirable to carefully look at the overall image of yourself that your application generates. Ask yourself if this is the image that you really wish to give the admissions committee. Be sure that your unique talents and interests are reflected and your potential contribution as a member of the incoming class can be clearly visualized.

Additional topics

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