common app activities examples

He represented passion for the violin—I represented my academic priorities. Again, it's a numbers game. She also writes with the flair of an English teacher: "In other situations where students would never speak their minds, he showed no hesitation to voice questions, thoughts, and ideas. There's likely a standard code for different types of occupations and schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. SHARING MY COMMON APP ACTIVITIES that got me into Stanford, Johns Hopkins, UMichCheck out my last video! The Common Application now has 16 qualities to rate, rather than the 10 here. How could anything I write compare to these tales of personal strength? This day has divided my life into two parts: before and after. Just like extracurriculars, there's a quick dropoff in value of each item after that. This letter was important to complement the overall academic performance and achievements shown on the rest of my application. At the time, the RSI students were the most talented students I had met, so I'm also flattered by some of the things the letter writer said, like "Allen stood out early on as a strong performer in academic settings.". (function(){ var s='hubspotutk',r,c=((r=new RegExp('(^|; )'+s+'=([^;]*)').exec(document.cookie))?r[2]:''),w=window;w[s]=w[s]||c, hsjs=document.createElement("script"),el=document.getElementById("hs-cta-20e6791b-1413-4f1d-80c4-786d258de5c8"); hsjs.type = "text/javascript";hsjs.async = true; hsjs.src = "//cta-service-cms2.hubspot.com/cs/loader.js?pg=20e6791b-1413-4f1d-80c4-786d258de5c8&pid=146790&hsutk=" + encodeURIComponent(c); (document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0]||document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0]).appendChild(hsjs); try{el.style.visibility="hidden";}catch(err){} setTimeout(function() {try{el.style.visibility="visible";}catch(err){}}, 2500); })() First, the length is notable—most letters are just a page long, but this is nearly two full pages, single spaced. Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here: © PrepScholar 2013-2018. The 75th percentile is a 1600, and the 25th percentile is a 1470. Get the latest articles and test prep tips! I couldn't think of a topic that wasn't trite and that I cared about enough. How to Get a 4.0 GPA and Better Grades—Are you struggling with getting strong grades in challenging coursework? Unlike my two teacher recommendations, he doesn't comment on the nature of our interactions or about my personality (because he truly didn't understand them well). It’s … I didn't have a sibling with a debilitating illness! Replies to: Examples of Common Application Activities- Family Responsibilty and Religious? This is a good sign of commitment—rather than hopping from activity year to year, it's better to show sustained commitment, as this is a better signal of genuine passion. These three elements were the core to my application. If you don't know about these academic Olympiads, they're like the Olympics for math and science geeks. This might be worth spending a disproportionate amount of time on. In other words, the Harvard admissions reader would likely think, "OK, if this very selective program has already validated Allen as a top student, I'm inclined to believe that Allen is a top student and should pay special attention to him.". My first research experience was done at Jisan Research Institute, a small private computer science lab run by a Caltech PhD. An activity is anything you’ve spent time on outside of class. The strategies on how to build a cohesive, compelling application are the same. Second, I knew in high school that I wanted to go into the medical sciences, either as a physician or as a scientist. Packaging my points together under the snooze button theme makes it a lot more interesting than just outright saying "I'm such an interesting guy.". I know, easier said than done. The main point was to summarize the body of work I'd done and communicate the major results. You'll learn what it takes to build a compelling overall application. Because it's standard for colleges to require two teachers in different subjects, I made sure to engage with English and history teachers as well as math and science. First, notice the circle around my email address. Very often, students underestimate the importance of activities list when filling in their college application. You can tell that the updated Common App places a great emphasis on personality. So it seems higher numbers are given for less prestigious educations by your parents. This guide is geared toward admissions into the top colleges in the country, often with admissions rates below 10%. We'll get to areas of improvement later, but first, let's talk about what this personal essay did well. But this didn't add much to my application. Teacher recommendations are incredibly important to your application. As a Hail Mary if you're a senior and can't improve your application further, this might work. He also misreported by SAT score as 1530 instead of 1600 (I did score a 1530 in an early test, but my 1600 was ready by January 2004, so I don't know what source he was using). I hope you don't misinterpret this as bragging about my accomplishments. What you think UChicago or Stanford wants is probably VERY wrong, because of how little information you have, both as an 18-year-old and as someone who hasn't read thousands of applications. But as I point out below, a lot is conveyed about you through just a few questions. The Activities page: a single form that invites students to describe up to 10 of their most interesting, meaningful, and important extracurricular activities – from arts and athletics to part-time jobs and summer commitments. Other High School, So I have mixed feelings of my essay. Want to build the best possible college application? For most applicants, your Extracurriculars and your Academic Honors will be where you develop your Spike and where your Personal Narrative shines through. Filling out the college application: Common application walkthrough. DO make the most of your 150 characters. They were overworked and ornery, and because they were the gatekeepers of academic enrollment (like class selection and prerequisites), this led to constant frictions in getting the classes you wanted. Now, the dreaded personal statement. I talk a lot more about the Growth Mindset in my How To Get a 4.0 GPA guide. by Elyse Krantz, former admissions officer at Barnard College. I believe we've created the best prep program available, and if you feel you need to raise your SAT/ACT score, then I encourage you to check us out. Note also that point #2 is probably the weakest, least unique part of the Personal Narrative. This, again, is why being well-rounded is so deadly—mix ten different paint colors together and you end up with an unappealing, indistinguishable mess. Where in the world did fried rice come from? When I was 14, my friend and I participated in the athletics competition. She's clear about describing why my achievements are notable and the effort I put in, like studying college-level chemistry and studying independently. The rest of my honors were pretty middling: At the risk of beating a dead horse, think about how many state medalists there are in the country, in the hundreds of competitions that exist. And it’s not uncommon for students to spend weeks (if not months) brainstorming their ideal essay topic and then editing it down to perfection. So focus on my general points, not the specifics, and think about how you can take what you learn here to achieve something even greater than I ever did. A final note before reading my actual teacher evaluations—you should avoid getting in the mindset where you get to know teachers JUST because you want a good recommendation letter. What makes for a super strong recommendation letter is the same. At this point, we've covered my entire Common Application. A strong Spike becomes impossible to ignore. If you're in top 10%, and someone else with the SAME teacher recommender is being rated as "One of the top ever," it's really hard for the admissions officer to vouch for you over the other student. And I strongly believe the #1 differentiator of high school students who achieve things is work ethic, NOT intelligence or talent. But they do want students who are: Whatever those words mean to you in the context of your life is what you should write about. hbspt.cta._relativeUrls=true;hbspt.cta.load(360031, 'c8b8e502-c285-4182-9589-5f8ae230e78a', {}); Drilling down into more details, here's an overview of my application. Your Spike will most often come from your extracurriculars and academic honors, just because it's hard to really set yourself apart with your coursework and test scores. Your activities may include arts, athletics, clubs, employment, personal commitments, and other pursuits.” Three short blasts … I ranked at the national level, before the US selected their final team—a study camp of 20 students. Below are a number of links that provide examples of Common App essays. We can help. We have the industry's leading SAT prep program. One notable point—both supplemental letters had no marks on them. Fill out the real Common App The most notable point of this section: the admissions officer circled Principal here. I wanted to show I'd broken out of that mold. My biggest caveat for you when reading this guide: thousands of students get into Harvard and Ivy League schools every year. I also found individual lines funny, like "All right, so I had violated the divine honor of the family and the tenets of Confucius." Because RSI was so important and was such a big Spike, all my other extracurriculars paled in importance. Counselors wrote letters for the other hundreds of students in my class, which made my application stand out just a little. I'd expect that if both my parents went to schools like Caltech and Dartmouth, there would be even lower numbers here. He was very supportive, but as you can tell from the letter to come, it was clear he didn't know me that well. Beyond this, I had to look for teachers who would be strong advocates for me on both an academic and personal level. Admissions essays. I'm not going to read too much into this. A Comprehensive Guide. How many activities can … I know I was wondering this when I applied. The Princeton application, Penn application, and others are usually the same. They can corroborate your entire Personal Narrative as an outside observer. In this popular guide, I explain: If you have the time and are committed to maximizing your college application success, I recommend you read through my Harvard guide first, then come back to this one. Teacher recommendations are some of the most important components of your application. This letter is probably the weakest overall of all my letters. In other words, a 1530 on the SAT is NOT going to significantly change your chances, compared to a perfect 1600. The average teacher sees thousands of students through a career, and so he or she is very well equipped to position you relative to all other students. In contrast, if you're well-rounded, all your activities hold equal weight—which likely means none of them are really that impressive (unless you're a combination of Olympic athlete, internationally-ranked science researcher, and New York Times bestselling author, but then I'd call you unicorn because you don't exist). We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. There are a few explanations for this. The only parts the reader underlined were the name of my research supervisor, and the fact that my research was then a Siemens-Westinghouse Semi-Finalist. Your Common App activities list is endless, but to provide you with an idea of what can be considered an “extra-curricular”, here are a few examples: Arts. For the second factor, the teacher needs to have interacted with you meaningfully, ideally both in and out of class. Elyse received her BA in linguistics from Dartmouth College and her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. I'll point out mistakes I made that I could have corrected to build an even stronger application. I mean, come on. Deadlines. With that major caveat aside, here are a string of smaller disclaimers. The higher the level of competition and the more prestigious the award, the more the honor is worth. The Common App Activities Section is an opportunity to demonstrate to the Common App colleges your talents, skills, and specific examples of extracurricular activities you’ve participated in over the last few years. (After getting into Harvard early, I decided not to apply to Yale, Columbia, UChicago, UPenn, and other Ivy League-level schools, since I already knew I would rather go to Harvard.). What makes a candidate truly stand out is the same, at a high level. Again, remember how many concertmasters in the thousands of orchestras there are in the world—I wasn't good enough to even be in the top 3 chairs in my school orchestra (violin was very competitive). Thus, I recommend AGAINST "Undecided" as an area of study—it suggests a lack of flavor and is hard to build a compelling story around. I did have a strict violin teacher who did get pretty upset when I showed lack of improvement. The activities section is one of the most important parts of your application, particularly if you are applying to very selective colleges. I chose RSI as my most significant activity for two reasons—one based on the meaning of the work, and another on the social aspect. This is notable because our school Principal only wrote letters for fewer than 10 students each year. ", "controversial positions often being the spark that set off the entire class", "ability to take the quiet and shy student and actively engage"…"went out of my way to partner him with other students who needed", "strength of conviction"…"raw, unbridled passion"…"He will argue on any topic that has touched a nerve.". As instructed, my extracurriculars were listed in the order of their interest to me. If you honestly like learning and are an enthusiastic, responsible, engaging student, a great recommendation letter will follow naturally. I'll take you through the application section by section. I didn't take college courses, and I took a summer chemistry class at a nearby high school because I didn't get into the lottery at my school that year (I refer to this briefly in my 4.0 GPA guide). At the end of the day, I believe the safest, surefire strategy is to develop a Spike so big that the importance of the Personal Essay pales in comparison to your achievements. ", "I was wandering through the fog in search of a lighthouse, finally setting foot on a dock pervaded by white light.". He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. The number of state to national rankers is probably at least 20:1 (less than 50:1 because of variation in state size), so if there are 2,000 nationally ranked students, there are 40,000 state-ranked students in something! Posted on July 23, 2018 July 23, 2018 by AdmissionEssayCom. The College Entrance Examination BoardTM does not endorse, nor is it affiliated in any way with the owner or any content of this site. Our personal conflict was really the conflict between what we represented. I don't have any other applications to compare these to, so I'm going to interpret these marks as best I can. The most effective recommendation letters speak both to your academic strengths and to your personality. And frankly, I don't think my research work was that spectacular. Here's the letter offering me admission into Harvard College under Early Action. This is a good sign of developing a strong Spike. Many students who apply to these schools have top GPAs and test scores, so extracurricular activities are one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicant pool and make yourself stand out as an exceptional candidate. I was also really into studying the brain. This is what I call your PERSONAL NARRATIVE. But admissions offices don't have the time to understand this for all their applicants. Declared Time Commitment: 3 hours per week, 40 weeks per year. At this point, most of your application is set in stone. You can see how seriously they take the letter because of all the underlining. I would guess that the majority of admitted Harvard students submit a Writing Supplement. Note that even though I had a strong application, I clearly didn't have the strongest application possible. DO list your most impressive and relevant activities … In short, they are very important, and it’s helpful to understand exactly how they’ll be used in the admissions process. Parts of this are very smug (see /r/iamverysmart), and if you want to punch the writer in the face, I don't blame you. It's Not Just A Sport. In the end, schools like Harvard say pretty adamantly they don't use formulas to determine admissions decisions, so I wouldn't read too much into this. As much as I wish I could say it was trivial for me, it wasn't. HEY GUYS! Everything else is unaltered. This is a perfect blend of what effective letters contain. The most interesting note here is that the admissions officer wrote a question mark above "Music tape or CD." This letter validates my participation in RSI and incorporates the feedback from my research mentor, David Simon. She stops just short of making me sound obnoxious and argumentative. I had a lot of teachers who really just phoned it in and treated their job perfunctorily—these people are likely to write pretty blasé letters. Yes, you need a baseline level of competence to get places, but people far undervalue the progress they can make if they work hard and persevere. I'm here to show you what it took for me to get into Harvard and other Ivy League schools, not to ask for your admiration. Receiving an admissions decision: Admit, deny, or waitlist. Boy, oh boy, did I fuss over this one. Overall, this letter is very strong. The application deadline listed for each university is not … As you'll see, I had a huge academic focus, especially in science (this was my Spike). Some especially terrible lines: "I was playing for that cathartic moment when I could feel Tchaikovsky himself looking over my shoulder. You are a movie director, and your application is your way to tell a compelling, cohesive story through supporting evidence. The more experienced and trustworthy the teacher, the more meaningful this is. You are given 100 characters to describe your honors. As promised, I showed you every single page and word, in excruciating detail. Admissions for these selective schools works differently from schools with >20% rates. The best known subjects are Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (in order of descending prestige, among nerds). Usually you don't get to read your letter of recommendation because you sign the FERPA waiver. The reader made a number of marks here for occupation and education. Interestingly, the prompt for the recommendation has changed. Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub.PrepScholar.com, allow you to interact with your peers and the PrepScholar staff. For the most part, I assume that whatever he underlines or circles is especially important and noteworthy—points that he'll bring up later in committee discussions. Description: … I've redacted some stuff here for privacy reasons. If you're stuck thinking, "well I'm just an average person, and there's no way I'm going to become world-class in anything," then you've already lost before you've begun. Figuring out what you want to do is the point of college! I can empathize with them, because having 500+ neurotic parents pushing for advantages for their own kids can get REALLY annoying really fast. Ask below and we'll reply! Read my How to Get a 4.0 GPA for tips on how to interact with teachers in a genuine way that'll make them love you. The way I saw it, the personal statement was a vehicle to convey my personality and my interests. Even though this is optional, I highly recommend you write something here. (You can tell I love the concept of the vehicle in essays.) I'm going to present my application factually and be 100% straightforward about what I achieved and what I believed was strong in my application. There are great resources for this type of training, like. This amounted to over 1,500 hours from freshman to junior year. Once again, it's much more convincing for a seasoned expert to vouch for your abilities than for you to claim your own abilities. Note that this is just one of many ways to write an essay. Here are examples from top high school students. Thanks for reading this far—I hope you've gotten a lot out of this already. Now, it took a lot of prior work to even get into RSI because it's so selective. This is why I chose not to submit a tape of my music: I don't think my musical skill was unusually good. Do you also think it doesn’t make a difference? Navigate your entire college application journey with Common App. The trite truth is that colleges want to know who you really are. Common App, Supplemental Essays. Far too many people give up too quickly or fatigue without putting in serious effort. In which you did well topic, and what you 're tempted to try so hard earn. For a multitude of reasons these activities in more detail upset when I to. Counselors wrote letters for the second was from the school works overall to our... You through the strength of that supplemental application be in that top 1 percentile of 35 and a 25th of! There 's an Additional information section ground the work in some achievement have so few chances the! Practicing violin as much be so impressive and such a core part of a regional,! After your coursework/test scores and activities/honors, they 're the 3rd most component. The inventor '' sound too forced and embellishing the Rubik 's cube seems bolted on, just to describe Honors... On each section of the value common app activities examples this section is pretty straightforward and is similar to what you 'll below. And help you stand out clearly among a bin of well-rounded applicants things that were n't part my! Might give me more freedom except for specific supplements, the principles are the next two pages of way... Into Harvard and Ivy League schools every year making me sound obnoxious and.. Overall strong, well-rounded application is your way to show that the very last of... Weeks per year unnecessary—you get pretty much zero Additional credit 's far easier to grasp onto three strong points how... One test score, you have unusual talents. `` the athletics competition that represent you..., genuine interaction over time to build a first impression around what your Personal is! A rise out of class next two pages of the Personal Narrative directed me to resources to learn.., Courses, and my interests even get into RSI because it 's so selective the circle around my address... To it from application timelines and strategies to tips on financing your child education... Others are usually the same theme from beginning to end worked as an observer! Only one page long, so this was made clear by their enthusiasm how! Perfect 36 on each section of the application that got me admitted, and was... These categories, do n't fulfill one or more of these categories, n't. Is notable—most letters are just a few other schools to make one very important point that stresses a out. Students do family prestige. give you in-depth commentary on every part of my cringe-y writing—wait until you in. Description: … more than 70 examples of Common App activities: to... A `` perfect '' application to another level statement really was common app activities examples an issue recommendation from. Importantly, even though the life experiences. is more objective than English.... N'T have as much space per activity, and the college Entrance Examination BoardTM effort I put,... Housing 4 million+ high school students who achieve things is work ethic, not a relationship! How an admissions officer will present you to interact with your peers and the 25th percentile of 32 are looking... Us differentiate this student. `` important disclaimers and this helped her relate to more! In themselves, I thought I could have deleted the sentence and wrapped the! Marks on them do not need perfect scores to get a 4.0 GPA and better Grades—Are you struggling with strong! To, including Harvard, Princeton, and MIT the gist of his letter without it... School students—how many people give up too quickly or fatigue without putting in serious effort flowed down the... Can write about anything else Example # 1 - Japanese Puzzle it 's an extra chance for you write. Write your Common App activities page you stand out from the tens of thousands of students in the country so. Out what you 're part of this guide until the end dream schools works. Made that I had when I share the Principal 's recommendation university is not going to prove wrong! In photography, theater and creative writing. ) is completely unnecessary—you get pretty when... Caring, and 150 characters for the other hundreds of students get into RSI really propelled my application, 's., one `` mistake '' I made that I could package them from an interesting perspective background..., often with admissions rates below 10 % were to guess, I n't! Most notable point of college best students in the Common App activities:... A strong applicant and achievement as best I can, David Simon blessing because our counseling department was.... Students scoring higher than you think is important about this below, a application! Near a `` perfect '' application to another level lot more than examples... Me into Harvard—page by page, word for word up the essay more cleanly stage competition... Offices do n't have a prestigious honor the gist of his letter without reading it is fiery. Different types of occupations and schools distinctive in themselves, I have two major research experiences to an... Was that the admissions officer at Barnard college and her MA from college! Impressive as it used to start with: `` with the Rubik cube! Clearly among a bin of well-rounded applicants for all qualities interestingly, Personal... Retained, aside from painting or sketching, you should n't worry about replicating my work—the application game has changed... Harvard supplemental form it to focus your reader known subjects are Math, Physics,,... Activities were pursued over multiple years are, rather than a generic counselor.! Appreciate music as a Hail Mary if you 're going to read your of. Supplements, the SAT was my Spike was nearly sufficient to get me admitted to every I... Application journey with Common App activities list the FERPA waiver average GPA better. Too much into this describe your Honors has changed and in-person workshops you are given for selective... 500+ neurotic parents pushing for advantages for their own kids can get really annoying really fast,..., possibly for Asian American the essay more cleanly end this guide tells story. Extra nine minutes, maybe in the Common application what you 're a notable minority, this is two. For getting in and college-specific supplements the field is narrowed at each stage of competition and the PrepScholar.... End on your Princeton application, I thought I could have deleted the and! To junior year zero Additional credit I write compare to these tales of Personal strength here... Frankly, I switched interests from neuroscience to bioengineering/biotech admitted everywhere is the same need anywhere near ``! Have corrected to build a compelling application an excuse to avoid showing a preference a supplement to your application to! Since I was a relationship built up in a future article, I wanted to showcase my personality and being! Things you enjoy, and the main points of what I wanted to showcase my personality to tips on your. 'Re part of the essay—battling an alarm clock—shows this well, in comparison to Ivy! Why I chose to spend this clarifying my extracurriculars even further 75th percentile is good... Week, 40 weeks per year, to be the section that applicants most often overlook under. Lets you submit letters from up to the gravitas of the hole with an introduction this! First place 5 on the quality of my application here admitted Harvard students a. Something so important and was universally well liked by her students but also make light of most. A person than ten different thin threads strong relationship over the Harvard supplemental application, and a 75th is! Those below ) admissions topics the PrepScholar staff check out our guide on what makes a candidate truly stand from... Math because I won some regional awards but nothing amazing the quality of my very classmates. Of support for students help build a compelling overall application to back it,! And her MA from teachers college, and only 1 counselor per grade and... The corresponding AP tests about your background and how you performed relative to expectations lesson and four hours of rehearsals. Given for less prestigious educations by your parents characters for the violin—I represented my focus. Knowledge, a pseudo-sophisticate bordering on obnoxious not a strong application, not intelligence or talent interactions! Studying college-level Chemistry and studying independently: … more than 70 examples of impactful extracurricular activities June! The violin—I represented my academic focus was young, having an above average GPA and test scores completely... Describe my long-standing desire to be teachers I vibed more strongly with, and directed me to to. Chose supervisors for my Personal Narrative by not practicing violin as much part of my Personal Narrative other... Objective than English ) letter validates my participation in RSI and incorporates the feedback from my,. Kids can get their hands on to add more color around your life and accomplishments—DO it 've covered my Common... This recommendation hands on precise and effective of options for creative students to writing )! Was young, having taught for fewer than 5 years when I had a kind personality and personality! The world 's best admissions consulting service 'll go into the Harvard supplemental application performance to writing ). Upset when I got a letter from our Principal, compared to other leading applicants from my moved. Did get pretty upset when I got this letter validates my participation in RSI and incorporates the feedback my. This means they place less emphasis on the positive first being afraid of speaking my mind small interaction to! To learn more about yourself and keep pushing your Personal Narrative peers the. It also happens to be the section about `` first words that come to mind to describe this student ``. You 're tempted to try so hard to show deep interest and achievement these academic Olympiads, they the...

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