EducationUSA Mentorship Program


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What do you like to do when you are not studying, sleeping or eating? Colleges are trying to understand what kind of a person you are. What motivates you? Much of your interests, skills and personal qualities come through in this part.


The application form is where most of your interests and activities come to life. Here, you have to remember the core four.




Such activities can be Sports, Activity Club, Volunteer Work, Summer Job, Special Project.


Filling out this part of the application will be easier if you prepare an undergraduate resume. You can also think of the following questions:



  • Do you play sports?


  • Are you part of a school club?


  • Have you volunteered anywhere? Parents’ work? Yayasan? Neighborhood?


  • Have you contributed to a publication?


  • Community/Mosque/Church services?


  • Do you prepare snacks for your brother afters school?


  • Do you have to take care of your old ailing grandmother?


  • Do you have a learning difficulty and had to address it with extra help/tutoring/exercises?



May be you have one major activity or may be you have many. THE NUMBER IS NOT IMPORTANT. What is important is how much that reveals who you are and how can this show your interest, your ability to bring new ideas and implement change (Passion-Talent-Initiative-Impact)


You should use every bit of your application to tell your story.


Here is some advice from the experts. Meredith Reynolds, an admissions officer from Tufts, offers the following advice on that section of the application form.  (from Inside Admissions: How to Make Your Application Better Using Just the Activities List)


Meredith Reynolds, an admissions officer from Tufts:


  1. Order Matters. List what you consider to be the most important/meaningful activities first. I don’t say this because I won’t read to the bottom (I will always read to the bottom, I promise). I say it because the way you prioritize your activities tells a story about you. If you see yourself as a funky jazz musician first and foremost, why would you bury “Jazz Ensemble” three quarters of the way down your list of activities, under that one year you participated in Relay for Life? If you think part of what makes you unique is that you’re both the captain of the football team and the LGBT club, why wouldn’t you put those two things next to each other at the top of your list of activities? You have control over what I learn about you and when. Don’t make me guess what’s most important to you. Tell me.


  1. Write in Your Own Voice. Even in this seemingly documental space, your voice should be present. I once had an applicant write, in the “Details” section under his role as a youth basketball coach: “I chase ten-year-old boys around a gym and try to teach them how to dribble without falling over.” I immediately began laughing. Already I had an image of this applicant and I hadn’t even begun reading his essays. If you’ve been class president three out of the four years you were on student senate, or you’re so good at chess you beat your own dad, which in your house is like a coup, or you won your school’s talent show, which just so happened to have 47 contestants spread out over three nights, tell me this. All of it. Be specific, tell a story, and do it in your own voice.  You’re painting me a picture of your life, and it starts here.


  1. Don’t Leave Anything Out. When I get to your guidance counselor’s recommendation, I should not have to go back to your Activities section and write, “Her Guidance Counselor adds that Sarah balances a part-time job.” It wasyour job to tell me this. If you pick your younger brother up every day after school and make him a snack while he does his homework, include that in your list; it is an activity. It accounts for some of your time, and it tells me why you couldn’t join the chess team that meets right after school. Family responsibilities, paid jobs, foreign exchange trips, conferences – these all add to my mental image of you going about your day. Do not leave them out. On the flip side…


  1. Do Not List Just to List. Just because you can list as many as ten activities on this list, does not mean that you should. Maybe for one week in 9th grade you volunteered at a soup kitchen. I’m happy you did this. It’s thoughtful, and hopefully it got you excited about giving back in the future. But that does not make it something you should include in the “Activities” section of your Common Application. Instead, you should be focusing on what I’ll call meaningful activities (that is, meaningful to you – volunteering at a soup kitchen is obviously meaningful, but clearly it didn’t stick for you). Meaningful activities are things that you sustained over a period of time (i.e. not a couple of weeks three years ago). Meaningful activities are also things that require teamwork, leadership skills, specialized knowledge, or a significant amount of time or energy. Six of these meaningful activities can be far more impressive than ten “far-fetched” activities, like going on sunny vacations with your family or joining that club for a hot second in tenth grade before you made the dance team and promptly quit. So before you add “playing video games” to your list, ask yourself if it’s meaningful.
January 22, 2015

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