Whether you’re starting with a blank screen or you’ve written down a quick list of your high school activities and you’re wondering where to head next, here are some tips on how to get the most out of the Activities Section on your Common Application. Before we start, here are some quick reminders: 1) you only have 10 entry spots, 2) you only have 150 characters maximum for each spot, and 3) your entries should be listed in order of importance to you.

    • Use action verbs to describe your experiences and tasks. There is no need to use complete sentences for these descriptions. In fact, you can include even more detail if you jump right into your descriptions using thoughtful action verbs (e.g., Lead a team of 8, organized a food drive, created a club).
    • Be as specific as possible. Try to avoid general, vague descriptions and be as specific as possible about the tasks you completed.
    • Quantify whenever possible. Be sure to quantify your experiences whenever possible – how many students where involved? How many people did you serve? How much money did you raise? How many club members did you oversee?
    • Combine activities when necessary and relevant. If you are concerned about space, you can combine two related activities into one entry, especially if they involve a similar skill set.
    • Be thoughtful about what you chose to highlight. After you have developed you initial complete list of activities, take a step back to consider what each entry might say about you as a person and as an applicant. Have you represented a wide variety of skills and interests? Are all of your entries meaningful to you?
    • Use a Google or Word document to revise your entries. It is easiest to use a Google or Word doc for drafts of your entries and then “cut and paste” your final version into your Common App.
    • Use the “Title” section wisely. Be sure to sure maximize your use of the title section in order to save space in your description (e.g., the full name of your organization, details of your role, the title of an event, etc).