RememberThe UC application gives you 350 characters to describe your extracurricular activities, volunteer work, awards and honors, educational prep programs, coursework other than A-G, and work experience. In each category, the student can include up to 5 entries for a total of 30.  The Common Application only gives you 150 characters​ to describe your activities and accomplishments and only allows for 10 entries.

  1. State role and organization name in the top box (60 characters), so you don’t waste characters in the lower, activity description box. Remember not to repeat your title in the activities section below if you need the space to explain your contribution.
  2. Emphasize the tangible, measurable impact of your work.
    • Whom did your activity help? How many people? How much money did your activities raise?​ If you were responsible for fundraising, definitely mention how much money you raised as a result of the activities you undertook. Similarly, if you collected books to donate to a library or local charity, talk about how many books you were able to donate. You get the idea!!
    • Try: Helped raise $15,000 to construct an orphanage, The Peace Centre, in Bukinda, Uganda.
  3.  Use active verbs to explain what you actually did for your extracurricular activities.​
  4. In order to fit in more information about what you have done in an activity, use lists. You don’t have to use complete sentences. Take time to edit the activities description by cutting extra words and repetitive descriptions. You can also consider using bullet points.​
    • For example: Advertised Spirit Week activities, organized fundraisers for prom, and tracked financial expenditures.​
  5. Use the present tense- If you are still participating in the activity, make sure you are using the present tense.
  6. Aim for variety in your list, making sure the verbs you are using are not redundant.
    • For example- if you say you were “Instructing, helping, teaching children soccer” — all those words say the same thing. It might be useful to brainstorm the activities you undertook and use different vocabulary to describe what happened.
    • Try: Instructing in proper technique, while imparting lessons in sportsmanship, health, and integrity.​
  7. Include any responsibilities you had to demonstrate leadership skills.​
    • Leadership is not limited to those with titles. Look at the definition of leadership and see which of those qualities you have exhibited in your activities.
  8. What if there isn’t much to say, or it was a one-time event? If this was a short term event, you do need to decide if you want it in your EC list.​
    • Did you do it every year? Did you make a significant contribution that you feel needs to be showcased? The Common Application and the UC application provide you boxes to fill in the activities, but you have to assess whether you want to throw in the kitchen sink. Universities keep saying that what matters is quality, not quantity.
  9. Avoid extreme language. Ex- to help all those in need (or) to end poverty in the world.
    • Try this: the work I did to help those in need (or) to aid in the fight against global poverty.​ Why is this important? It helps give true context and sets parameters to the results you accomplished as a result of your participation.
  10. Use bigger and more powerful words that describe your role in the activity.
    • Instead of: “Come up with” (or) “told people about”. Try: Develop, brainstorm (or) advertised, marketed.​ These are active verbs that explain what you did in the activity.
  11. If your role is that of a member or participant — you do not have to say that each time. Just list the name of the club and your role in it.​
  12. Do Not Stretch the Truth about what you did and your role in your activities. You can have your offer rescinded for such things.​ List the number of hours you spent per week and the number of weeks per year carefully. Do not list activities you did not participate in.
  13. Create your activities list in a document outside of the applications; transfer the content into the application once you are satisfied with the list you have created. This will also allow you to rank the activities in order of importance to you.
    • The UC application will ask you to split your activities into a few categories –
      • Educational Prep Programs
      • Volunteer & Community Service
      • Work Experience
      • Awards & Honors
      • Extracurricular Activities
  14. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations that are unique to your school or situation. Use abbreviations only if they are commonly used.
  15. Remember to convey why the activities you took part in are important to you.

Why choose The Summit College Counseling?

At The Summit College Counseling, my goal is to provide one on one counseling to meet the needs of every student and family. Each child is unique and their story needs to be celebrated and shared with the colleges and universities they apply to. The aim of the counseling process is to discover the student’s academic strengths, highlight their accomplishments and extracurricular activities and create a strong application that will bring to light what they have to offer every college campus.

We will work together to find the “right fit” college/university list for each student, places where they will thrive as they start the next phase of their lives. The goal is to help each child put together their strongest application for admission based on their strengths as it plays out in their high school record to universities that are best suited to meet their needs.

Ready to work with an Experienced Counselor?

If you want to learn more about how The Summit can help you navigate the college admissions process,

please contact Veena