August 25, 2013

High School Seniors: How to Prepare your Activities & Honors List

“Please list your principal extracurricular, volunteer, and work activities in their order of importance to you.”

The Common Application allows ten spaces to list your extracurricular and work experience and five for academic distinctions and honors.  The CA4 allows 150 characters and spaces for a description of each activity and your roles.  You are expected to organize this list in a meaningful way so that the admissions officers can understand which activities were most important to you.  Be sure to make the most out of the character count as well as to proofread what you’ve written!

Even if you are already prepared with an organized list of everything you have done and won throughout high school, you will find this section to be a challenge — especially since the directions indicate that you can also prepare a full resume for the “Additional Information” section.  If you are not, then you’ll be scurrying around, looking for certificates, articles, and letters when time is of the essence and stress is at a premium!

This is a perfect opportunity to enlist your parents to help you in this task – especially since they will remember more of your awards and honors than you might, dating all the way back to the gold stars you got in kindergarten.

  • Start your list early.  Create a spreadsheet of your clubs, teams, organizations, musical or theatre groups, volunteer and community service activities, summer experiences and jobs.
  • Keep track of summer activities, after school programs, religious school, travel teams, music lessons, trips abroad…anything that will distinguish you from thousands of other candidates.
  • Include some details about special events or programs, years of participation, and your involvement, especially any leadership roles and acknowledgments you’ve received.
  •  Be sure to have an idea of how much time you have spent on each activity (Hours per week, weeks per year).
  • List awards, plaques, letters of commendation, citations, scholarships, honor societies, honor rolls, etc.   Don’t be shy:  If you were Student of the Month once, write it down!  If you got honorable mention in a science fair, list it!
  • Keep all of the documentation in a safe place. If you are featured in a school or local newspaper article or if any of your work has been published, scan and save them.

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