How To Make Your Extracurriculars Look Best On Your College Applications

You’ve probably been told all throughout high school to get involved and participate in clubs and extracurriculars. For many college admissions officers, seeing that you’re really committed to your activities proves that you’re responsible and you can manage your time well. Now that it’s college application season, it’s time to impress admissions officers with your extracurricular involvement. Here are a few tips get the most out of your clubs and make them look awesome on your college applications!

1. List your extracurriculars in order of importance

On the Common App, there’s space to list 10 activities. If you’re a super-involved student, this may mean having to weigh the importance of your clubs and cutting a few out of your application.

“It’s important to list things in order of importance and significant contribution,” says Donnaree Wynter Grant, assistant director of admissions events at Northeastern University. For example, list being the captain of your debate team for four years over a single semester you spent playing JV volleyball. If you’re committed to an activity for longer, it’s probably more significant to you, and therefore should be listed before activities that aren’t as important in your life.

2. Make sure your descriptions are clear

Grant also stresses that it’s important to describe your clubs clearly enough so someone who is reading your application for the first time will understand what the activity entailed. “For example, don’t use acronyms for titles,” she advises. “I won’t know what the ‘ABC club’ is unless you explain what it is and your role within the club.” Make sure you spell out what the club is titled, what it involves and what your position is within the club.

Michael Parcella, the assistant direction of undergraduate admissions at UMass Boston, gives some similar advice. “Letting the college know more about how you were involved rather than just writing down the name of a club is a good a start to best presenting your information,” he says.

Keep in mind that admissions officers look at hundreds of applications from all over the globe, so they won’t always know what exactly you’re talking about. For example, don’t simply write “NHS” for the name of the organization and check off the years you were involved. Instead, call the organization by its full name, “National Honor Society,” give a brief description of what it is either in your own words or from the organization’s website (if possible) and then specify if you held a leadership position (like “president” or “treasurer”) and for which years of commitment. This will make it much easier for admissions officers to read through your list and gather an idea of what kinds of activities you were involved in.

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