This will be part of a series focusing on different aspects of cultivating a strong application profile for college. In this article, we will look at how to create a framework for your activities and extracurriculars. It’s incredibly important to understand how college admissions look at activities! Finally, we will also discuss how to track and edit your activities from freshman year, all the way to junior/senior year. We hope the following outline will help you plan a framework for extracurriculars in a more organized fashion.
Let’s jump right in! First, let’s discuss a few types of extracurriculars and the framework to help you make the most of it.
4 main categories of extracurriculars
These are activities that are sponsored, funded and/or take place in your school. Examples include: clubs, sports teams, etc.
Out of school:
These are activities that are not affiliated with your school and are often undertaken independently. They can include activities like: a retail job, starting your own non-profit/organization, internships, etc.
These are activities that vary in frequency, can be related to school or out of school organizations, but essentially operate as competitions – whether its speech contests, debate finals, national and state level competitions, etc.
These are activities that are related to civic and social service, like volunteering and pro-bono work. They can involve mission/charity trips, philanthropic ventures, etc.
Great! Now that you understand what buckets your activities might fall into, we can start discussing your next steps. This is where the planning comes in, to construct a proper framework for these extracurriculars.
1. List activities out by year, starting from 9th grade and label them by type of activity.
This is important because then you can visually see if the number of activities have increased/decreased, and which ones are the most consistent, etc.
2. Create clusters.
In other words, fit 2-3 activities that follow a certain topic or theme. Grouping them like this will help you create continuity.
For example, Student 1 wrote out a particular theme sentence and clustered activities around it. He said ‘I like to use data to solve problems.’ Then, he proceeded to write the 2-3 activities associated with that particular theme sentence.
3. Construct your one sentence.
Your “one sentence” is the thesis of your story and your essay. That is to say, you can think of this like your elevator pitch for yourself as a scholar.
For example: “I’m a scientist who enjoys applying data analytics to cancer problems.” Use an evidence based approach to support your 1 sentence; ie., “I’ve done this through my cancer research, my internship, etc.—
By distilling all your 4 years into one sentence, you can help craft your narrative and create a focused, cohesive story about you, and your passions/interests.
The above is a sample framework, but the same bare bones analysis can be applied to your own high school record. If you need help getting started or constructing your own EC framework, reach out to a Empowerly counselor!