Activities provide a sense of who you are outside of the classroom - what your interests are, the commitments you hold, the role you play in your family or community - and how you meaningfully spend your time. There are many activities that could be included, so it’s important to identify the experiences that give the most insight into your life and how your time is occupied.
For the National College Match application for high school seniors and the College Prep Scholars Program application for high school juniors, the Activities section encompasses four categories - paid work, home and/or family responsibilities, extracurricular and other activities, and college preparation.
Paid work experience can include an after-school or summer job, paid internships, or consistent informal work such as babysitting or yard work. It is important to include this information if it applies, as paid work can take up a significant portion of time outside of the classroom and also demonstrates to colleges that you are responsible and independent. If you hold any leadership roles within your work or if you’ve been promoted, that is also important information to include.
When listing work experience, it is important to include a description of what you do (e.g. babysitting, yard work, etc.). If you work for a company, it’s fine to include the company’s name if it is well-known. We're also interested in learning why you took on these obligations, so please indicate what you've put your earnings toward. This can include things like non-essential personal spending, such as going out to the movies or for ice cream, or more essential personal or family spending, such as groceries or household necessities.
Home or family responsibilities are different from chores, in that they fulfill an important need in your household or family, rather than simply lending a hand. Knowing about your responsibilities helps us put your academics and other activities into context.
This includes, but is not limited to, responsibilities such as:
Caring for younger sibling(s) while parents work
Helping with a family business (include only if unpaid; paid work should be entered in the Paid Work section)
Caring for a family member with an illness
Managing family finances, such as paying bills or budgeting
Serving as the primary translator for your parent(s) or guardian(s)
Handling routine household tasks if you live on your own
Similar to the Paid Work section, you’ll have the opportunity to describe how fulfilling these responsibilities is meaningful to you and to your family. Home responsibilities are not considered “lesser” to having a paid job or being involved in several extracurricular activities. The important thing is that you are demonstrating responsibility and work ethic through how you spend your time.
Extracurriculars and other activities can have a more broad interpretation than the previous two categories, but are just as significant in understanding how you spend your time outside of the classroom. These can include school or community involvement, unpaid internships, volunteer work, or other individual pursuits.
Since you are limited in how many you can enter, when thinking about which activities to include, consider the following:
Have I spent a significant amount of time on this activity?
Do I hold any leadership positions or have I demonstrated growth within this organization or group?
Does this activity reflect my current interests and passions?
Does this activity relate to future academic or career goals?
Having genuine passion is important! Include activities that you are excited about and have contributed to your personal growth. Additionally, admissions officers like to see when your current activities connect to your future academic or career interests. Be thorough and include as much detail as possible about your activities to convey their significance to you.
College preparation can include information about any programs or organizations you have participated in that have helped you prepare for college or have offered college application and admissions guidance. We understand that not all students have participated in these types of programs, but are interested in learning more about any organizations students may have been involved in.
Each of the types of activities above are valuable additions to your college application, and no single one is more important than another. Furthermore, it is possible not every type of activity will apply, and that is fine. What is important is that you thoughtfully and accurately fill out those that are applicable to you in order to give a complete picture of how you spend your time outside of the classroom.
For more guidance on how to fill out the Activities section, watch our QuestTips video.