How to REALLY Impress Admissions with your Extracurriculars

crop woman with handmade heart and wooden figure

Everyone wants to look bright, engaged, and an all star when it comes to their extracurriculars. Colleges get thousands and thousands of applicants promising just that: the all star student athlete who juggles 2 jobs, caddies at the hospital, volunteers at 3 different non-profits, and still has time to bake cupcakes for the annual charity fundraiser.

It might seem like a good tactic to throw everything at the board and hope something sticks but college admissions counselors, as well as elite college consultants, advise students to be a little more discerning when it comes to selecting activities for their resume. Your list of EC’s should tell a story, and many of your activities should not make the list if they don’t add to your narrative.

Most high school students engage in a variety of activities – and that’s great! High school is a great time to experiment, explore and  figure out what your interests and passions are, and as a result, your resume can look like a list of hodge podge activities and interests. The key is to narrow and hone your list down to include exactly what tells a specific story about yourself, who you hope to be in college, and possibly beyond. Now, that’s difficult to do but the best resumes, according to college officials, are those that tell a straight narrative. The best applicants go even further, and expound upon those specific activities (1 or 2) in their essays and instead of just listing accomplishments and results, they take a step further to illustrate how the demonstrated activity changed them as an individual or created some sort of profound impact in their life.

Here’s an example of two students, with similar GPA/SAT profiles:

Student 1: Sarah has a list of varied EC activities, discusses how versatile she is, and relists most of her activities in an essay, trying to pack in as much as she can in an attempt to showcase how much she has accomplished and done

Student 2: Katy has the same list of EC activities. Instead of summarily listing all the activities in one essay, she makes the difficult, but necessary, choice of selecting one activity that she feels most passionate about. She then goes in depth, and makes sure to connect the activity to her own personal growth, changed perspective, personal impact and accomplishments.

While both students have similar grades and stats, Katy is more memorable because her essay highlights specific instances and she was able to do a better job at showcasing her personality than Sarah.

So, when it comes down to it, the best thing you can do for your resume is often the last step: editing. There are a number of ways to do this, the easiest being listing out every single activity you’ve done and then filtering your list by a number of factors including: level of commitment/ hours, leadership level, impact, relationship to your future college major or desired profession, etc. If you need help figuring out how to framework your EC’s or what activities to pursue, make sure to connect with an Empowerly college consultant.

Questions? Let us know!