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Admissions Common College Application Activities -- what should I list?

  1. Oct 30, 2016 #1
    I am applying to OSU and when filling out the common app there are 10 slots for activities. I have taken online physics classes since the 9th grade. Would this be something I could put down as an activity?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2016 #2
    When we work with students on the common application (and others) we have them make a long list of every possible activity, then we help them trim it down to the most impressive things, trying to balance academic prowess, athletics, leadership, volunteering, etc.

    A student who has a very high ACT score, GPA, and academic honors and awards would probably list fewer academic activities than a student with academic credentials that are merely good.
  4. Oct 30, 2016 #3
    Associate dean and director of admission at Stanford made this comment about the student of the students who applied in 2016:
    “Throughout our evaluation process, we met amazing young people from around the world,” she added. “They showed highly developed ability for problem-solving and self-expression. Some brought exceptional creativity and talent, others demonstrated entrepreneurship and the vast majority of applicants were deeply engaged in service to others. We were moved by personal stories of courage, resilience and character. It was extremely difficult to choose so few from among so many impressive candidates.”
    Almost 44,000 applied for a little under 2100 spots. Fifty years ago, the University was far less selective. My grades were good, my SAT scores almost perfect, and my references superlative, but I was in the lower part of the group considered for acceptance. I was told later that I was selected because my activities showed I had a rich life beyond academics. This still holds true at Stanford and Harvard and probably holds true at other colleges. Your activities should reflect that there is breadth to the person you are. Taking online physics classes shows initiative and I would put that down. At the same time, I would include activities that reflect community service (colleges like that). Surfing--the ocean kind-- caught the committee's attention in my case. In case, Activities gives them a chance to see things that might set you apart from equally academically qualified applicants.
  5. Oct 30, 2016 #4
    We usually encourage students we mentor to start keeping written records of their activities, so they don't have to try and remember everything a few days before their applications are due. Here is a compilation from a number of our students that might give you some ideas and/or jog your memory. We work with students we mentor starting in the 9th grade (or when the mentoring relationship begins) to help ensure they have a lot of activities to choose from, first to enrich their lives and high school experiences. Second, to help at scholarship time.

    Academic Activities
    Broadcom MASTERS Finals (9th grade), Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington DC
    ISEF Finals (11th grade)
    ISEF Finals (12th grade)
    ISEF-affiliated state science fair (9th-11th grades)
    ISEF-affiliated regional science fair (9th-12th grades)
    Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (9th-11th grades)
    Stockholm Junior Water Prize Finals (11th grade)
    Scrabble, Hasbro on-line (9th grade, High Score 593, 127 Bingos)
    Scrabble, Internet Scrabble Club (9th grade, 67-31 Won-Loss, 853 ISC rating)
    Scrabble, Internet Scrabble Club (10th grade, 61-30, 1173 ISC rating)
    Scrabble, Internet Scrabble Club (11th grade, 67-47, 1206 ISC rating)
    Scrabble (local in-person Scrabble Clubs (9th-11th grades)
    Quiz Bowl, Captain (10th grade, 16-4 Won-Loss)
    Knowledge Master Open, Captain (9th grade, First place in state)

    Service/Volunteer Activities
    Volunteer Quiz Bowl Reader (10th - 11th grade)
    Voluntary creel survey worker for creel surveys conducted on Louisiana estuaries for LSU-approved research projects. Over 1200 specimens weighed and measured. (9th-12th grades)
    Volunteer role in crime reconstruction for Innocence Project (10th grade)
    Facility Development Volunteer for Areté Training Group (non-profit organization, Louisiana, 10th-11th grades)
    Volunteer fish tagging for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (10th-11th grades)
    Food preparation for Hunters for the Hungry (10th grade)
    Invited peer reviewer for Journal of Fisheries and Aquaculture (10th grade)
    Elmer's Island Clean-up Volunteer (10th grade)
    Cameron Parish Fishing Area Clean-up Volunteer (11th grade)

    Employment Activities
    Research Assistant, BTG Research (9th-12th grades)
    Assistant Fencing Instructor, local fencing center (10th-12th grades)

    Athletic/Sporting Activities

    Tennis (10th-12th grade)
    Ultimate Frisbee (9th - 12th grade)
    Ice Skating (10th grade)
    Laser Tag (9th -10th grade)
    Mini-golf (9th – 12th grade)
    2014 Salty Cajun Fishing Tournament (10th grade)
    Kayaking and Kayak Fishing (9th - 11th grade)
    2015 Ride the Bull Kayak Fishing Tournament (10th grade)
    Fencing, Epee (10th - 12th grade)
    Boating Safety Certification, US Coast Guard (10th grade)
    Project Appleseed (9th grade)
    Savage Shooters Rifle Matches (10th – 11th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification F-Class Rifle (9th -12th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification Rimfire Rifle (9th -11th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification High Power Rifle Sporting (11th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification Pistol (10th -11th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification Defensive Pistol I (11th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification Defensive Pistol II (11th grade)
    NRA Marksmanship Qualification Air Pistol (10th grade)
    F-Class Precision Rifle (9h grade, 11th – 12th grade)
    Air Pistol (9th - 10th grade)
    Air Rifle (9th - 10th grade)
    NRA Women on Target Rifle Matches (11th - 12th grade)
    Benchrest Rifle (10th grade)
    Apprentice Instructor, NRA Basic Pistol (10th grade)

    Church Activities
    Church Youth Group Summer Trip (9th - 12th grade)
    Christian Life Fellowship Youth Trip (9th - 10th grade)

    Music Activities
    Bassoon (9th - 10th grade)
    Clarinet (10th grade)
    Vocal Music Group (9th grade)
    Viola (11th - 12th grade)
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
  6. Oct 30, 2016 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Whew, I was glad to see this when I went back and re-read your introductory paragraph. I was thinking, "how in heck did this kid have any time for schoolwork?" :wideeyed:
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