The extracurricular activities list is a required element of the Common Application and other universities who do not use the Common Application also ask for some form of document detailing a student’s extracurricular endeavors. This section focuses on showing you how to help your mentee select and showcase their extracurriculars in a concise, yet informative way.

When reading your mentee’s extracurricular activities list, try and place yourself in the shoes of an admissions counselor. If your student has worded something in such a way that you do not understand, or if they have used turns of phrase better understood by a Spanish audience, this is something you will need to work on with them. 

On the Common Application, students are only allowed to include up to 10 activities, and each one can only be described in 150 characters. There are also an additional 50 characters to describe their role in the activity, such as “captain” or “president.” Given such little allowance makes this a tough task! 

Students have been provided with a template to write their EC list.

In order to help your mentee write a concise, clear, and meaningful extracurricular activities list, ask yourself:

  • Does my mentee’s list show breadth? Consider noting how many of their activities fall into one of these categories:
VolunteeringActivities within their local communityHobbies or self-led projects
After school activities or clubsActivities related to their religionAcademic or personal honors
The ArtsPhysical activitiesWork outside of school, such as internships or part-time jobs
Family responsibilities (taking care of a family member)SportsCultural activities 
  • Are their titles and descriptions clear? Do they need to make certain phrases more accessible for an American reader?
  • Could certain activities be explained more clearly?
  • Could some of the descriptions be shortened? The Common Application does not require that the students write in complete sentences. For example, “Member of school soccer team. Voted MVP 3 times.” will suffice, as each section has a character limit, not a word limit.
  • Is the activity mentioned of personal significance and impact? Does it impact others, such as their friends, family, or community? Evaluate whether your mentee’s activities are significant, whether that be the activity itself or the amount of time they have dedicated to it. 
  • Was your mentee the ‘first’, ‘best’ or ‘only’ student to do this activity? If so, an admissions counselor will want to know.
  • What were your mentee’s motivations for doing the activity? Is this obvious?
  • What experience has your mentee gained from the activity?
  • Do you feel that your student has correctly ordered their activities? Suggest changes to the order depending on the significance of each activity; the most significant should go first
  • The CCC should definitely be on their list!
  • Based on your knowledge of your mentee and their hobbies, interests, and accomplishments, do you see anything missing from the list? 

In summary, the extracurricular activities list should give you a better idea of your mentee as a whole; their interests, passions, commitments, values, and contributions to society. Ideally, the way that your mentee presents their extracurriculars will show an admissions counselor what they will bring to their campus.

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