Create the Ultimate Activities List on the Common App

Activities list on the Common App

The Common Application (Common App) has become a popular choice among students when applying to college. This streamlined platform allows applicants to submit their materials to multiple institutions effortlessly. Among the various sections of the Common App, the Activities List holds great importance as it provides a space for students to showcase their extracurricular involvements and achievements. In this blog post, we will explore how to create an impressive Activities List, give advice on ordering activities by importance, explain the character limits for the description section, and provide overall tips for maximizing your college application’s impact on admission officers.

Understanding the Activities List on the Common App

The Activities List on the Common App allows applicants to present a comprehensive overview of their extracurricular endeavors. Admissions officers review this section to gain insights into a student’s passions, talents, and impact outside of the classroom. Applicants are able to demonstrate their time management skills, leadership abilities, dedication, and commitment to activities that have shaped their personal growth.

Creating an Impressive Activities List

Consider Quality over Quantity: Rather than listing every activity you have ever participated in, focus on highlighting those that truly define your interests, skills, and character. Admissions officers value depth and dedication more than a long list of superficial involvements.

Showcase Leadership Roles: If you have held leadership positions in activities, emphasize that. Mention the responsibilities you undertook, the impact you made, and how you contributed to the growth and success of the organization or team. Use active verbs to convey your leadership skills effectively.

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Demonstrate Long-Term Commitment: Colleges appreciate students who demonstrate consistency and dedication. If you have been involved in an activity for an extended period, highlight it to showcase your commitment and passion. This may include participating in sports teams, clubs, community service projects, or the arts.

While it is essential to showcase a variety of activities, avoid listing activities where your time commitment was minimal or where you were not actively engaged. 

Quantify Your Achievements: Provide measurable achievements or milestones within each activity whenever possible. This helps admissions officers understand the extent of your impact and the level of your commitment. For example, if you volunteered at a local shelter, mention the number of hours you contributed or any specific projects you initiated or completed.

Explain the Significance: Don’t just list your activities; provide brief explanations or reflections highlighting why each activity is meaningful. This helps admissions officers understand your motivations and personal growth through extracurricular engagements.

Tips for the Common App Activities Section

In the Common App Activities List, each activity title has a limit of 50 characters, including spaces. Use this limit wisely to provide a concise yet descriptive title that accurately represents the activity.

List your activities in order of importance, emphasizing those that showcase your leadership roles and long-term commitments. This enables admission officers to understand your dedication and impact within each activity.

In the description section, students provide additional information about each activity. It has a character limit of 150 characters, including spaces. Make the most of this limited space to capture the essence of your involvement, impact, and personal growth.

If you had significant family responsibilities that impacted your time or limited your participation in extracurricular activities, use the additional information section of the Common App to briefly explain these obligations. Be concise and factual in your explanation.

Overlooked Activities to Consider Including on the Common App Activities List:

Part-time Jobs: If you have worked part-time during high school—whether it’s a summer job, after-school employment, or weekend work—include it on your Activities List. This demonstrates your work ethic, time management skills, and sense of responsibility.

Internships or Research Opportunities: Participating in internships or research projects related to your field of interest showcases your dedication and initiative. It also highlights your ability to apply classroom knowledge to real-world settings.

Independent Projects: If you have undertaken any independent projects outside of school, such as writing a blog, creating artwork, or developing a personal website, include them. Independent projects exhibit your creativity, self-motivation, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Community Involvement: Engaging in community service or volunteer activities is highly valued by college admissions officers. Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, organizing a charity event, or participating in community clean-ups, these experiences demonstrate your commitment to making a positive impact.

Cultural or Religious Organizations: Involvement in cultural or religious organizations, such as being a member of a cultural club or participating in religious ceremonies, can provide insight into your identity, values, and community engagement.

Hobbies and Special Talents: Do you have a passion for playing a musical instrument, practicing martial arts, or participating in a unique hobby? Don’t hesitate to include these types of activities on your list. They illuminate your dedication, discipline, and ability to excel in areas beyond academics.

Leadership in Non-School Organizations: If you hold leadership roles in organizations outside of school, such as youth groups, scouting programs, or sports teams, make sure they are highlighted. They demonstrate that you are able to lead and collaborate beyond the confines of the academic environment.

Online Courses and Certifications: If you have taken online courses or obtained certifications outside of your regular academic curriculum, mention them. Admissions officers are drawn to lifelong learners and applicants who explore subjects of personal interest.

Remember, the above activities provide valuable insights into your character, skills, and dedication. Choose activities that genuinely resonate with you and spur your personal growth. By presenting a well-rounded Activities List, you can present yourself as a dynamic and engaged applicant to college admissions officers. Crafting an impressive Activities List in the Common App is crucial for showcasing your leadership, commitment, and personal growth throughout high school. By understanding the character limits, ordering activities by importance, and using active verbs to describe your accomplishments, you can create a compelling representation of your extracurricular involvements. Remember to use the additional information section to provide context when necessary. Following these tips will make your college application stand out and leave a lasting impression on admission officers.

At HelloCollege, we know how difficult it can be to prepare for college and aim to make the process as simple and easy as possible. We want to help you get accepted into the university of your dreams!

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The Hello College Team

HelloCollege CEO Andrea Emmons has spent the last 15 years guiding students and families across the country on their path to college. Andrea knows the profound impact proactive college planning has on the lives of students and is passionate about mentoring families through the process.
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About Our Founder

Kevin Krebs

Inspired by his parents, Kevin’s journey from a first-gen, diverse, low-income background to Northwestern University shaped him. After experiencing challenges, including student loan debt, he founded HelloCollege and has spent the last 25 years helping students successfully navigate college admissions.

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