Merrie Perrey
March 10, 2020

Writing Your Activities List For The Common App

Typically students have no issue with the most important activities they participated in high school like sports, clubs, work or community service, however, if you start to struggle and just can't think of where you spent all your time in high school, check out this comprehensive list of examples to jog your memory! Once you've identified 10 or less activities, here are some tips for writing the Common Application Activities List and effectively conveying information that is under the 150 character limit.


Before you start writing, go through each activity and identify the following:
  • What did I do during this activity?
  • Did I solve any problems?
  • Where there any lessons or skills I learned?
  • What impact did I have?  Numbers are very effective.
  • How have I applied what I learned?
Here are the top 5 tips to support a strong Common Application activities list:

1. List Activities from the most important to you (where you spent most of your time) to least important.

2. Emphasize a tangible or measurable impact. Whom did your activity help? How many people? How much money did you raise? For example, instead of: Raised money for children in Africa. Try: Raised $3,000 to provide three uniforms and scholarships for students attending the Joseph Waweru Home School in Kenya.

3. Use active verbs to explain what you actually did and list your tasks. For example, instead of: Worked at a clinic doing different things. Try: Organized patient diagnosis notes, sterilized tools for surgeries, assisted with x-ray analysis.

4. Use the present tense if it’s something you still do. For example, instead of: I helped tour visitors around the campus and presented some information on school history and student life. Try: I give campus tours, providing info on school history, student activities, boarding life.

5. Aim for variety in your list and make sure your verbs aren’t redundant. For example, instead of: Instructing, helping, teaching children tennis (how are these three different?) Try: Instructing in proper technique, while imparting lessons in sportsmanship, health and integrity.

By providing a compelling list of activities that are supported by active verbs, tangible impacts and variety, a student is able to effectively differentiate their application.

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