Want to know how to impress adcoms with your extracurriculars? Follow Eternity_Hope2005's excellent advice that was originally placed elsewhere on our boards, but deserves to be featured on one of our most popular boards.
"Let me tell you something. Everyone wants to look brilliant and versatile. I mean who doesn't want to tell the admissions officer that they are everywhere in the community and have taken a phenomenal amount of interest in extracurriculars.
The plan to talk about specific ec's rather than all of them is still much more efficient. Here's why. An admissions officer simply has to look at your ec files in order to determine whether or not you have been involved in the community. You don't need to write an essay and specifically tell him about your numerous community activities in order for him to butter him up about your "versatile" skills.
Almost everyone who applies to these top schools has pages and pages of extracurricular activities. Youre not the only one who has been extremely "versatile" as a high school student. Thousands of students clearly want their ec's to stand out; they are all going to be indicated them in an essay and have their counselors recommendation include those numerous activities they have done outside of school.
This conveys a message to the admissions officer that you are certainly involved in the community. So the admissions officer will say "this kid right here is not someone who limits himself to school and academics. He certainly takes part in the community and that is a good thing."
However, if you really want your admissions officer to ADMIRE you (in other words want your folder to truly stand out); you've got to show your personality as not just involved, but truly passionate and real. What this means is that you won't seem like just a application folder anymore; instead you seem much more animated and creative - in short, much more human and real. This is what separates you from that other kid who also had the same, long list of ec's.
How does one do this? How does one show their personality like this? The only real choice that you have is through your essay. Some might say interview. Well, most schools actually place much more importance on your essay than your interview. The reason is simple: Your essay is your only communication medium inside that committee room. Only one person interviews you but everyone reads your essay. It is the only way that you speak and show your feelings and creativeness. Your essay can be an amazing asset.
By picking specific ec activities and talking about them; your writing prose and content go much deeper and beyond the superficial areas.
As a result, you won't seem like a kid trying to impress an admissions committee about how versatile you are. Instead, you will convey something deeper and more meaningful to them: your livelihood and passions. When you focus and narrow down on a topic and speak about yourself very experiences very deeply; it shows your feelings, thoughts, and ideas so much more. It makes you seem so much more human and real; not just as an application folder sitting in front of their eyes out of the thousands! It makes you more unique and real in front of their eyes.
I have had many friends with tons of ec activities and 4.0 GPA along with a very rigorous curriculum and a good SAT score get rejected from places like Dartmouth, UPenn. After all these years (I'm now at one of the top engineering schools in the country), my friends and I realize why we got rejected from certain places we tried to get into back then. We just never conveyed ourself enough to the admissions committee.
Here's the deal. Think of it as two different cases.
Case # 1) This kid named Jill has her list of ec activities and talks about how she is very versatile and yada yada.... She also relists most of his ec activities in an essay of its own.
Case #2) This kid named Jenny has the same list of ec activities. Instead of listing all the activities over again in another essay, she picks one activity that she felt the most passionate about. Jenny than goes very in depth and talks about her feelings and experiences about that one activity. She even talks about how it has helped her be a slightly different person in life. How it has helped her to look at things in a different and more optimistic perspective and than Jenny backs this up by listing the specific events in that one activity that really impacted her.
To me, Jenny shows much more of his personality than Jill. I really didn't need Jill to re-list all her ec's and I feel that Jill is trying to FORCE IT. She's trying too hard to get the admission's admiration and that is just pathetic. Goodbye Jill.
Jenny on the other hand has done a superior job of conveying her personality and experiences. She did not seem like she was forcing it across. It is clear that Jenny is not trying hard to capture anybody's attention; she is simply speaking about who she is and how she feels about life. This person has much more of an impact on me than Jill.
Jill is just one of the thousands of applicants who seem like they really, really want in this college. That's all I can say about her other. She may have good grades and good test scores but thousands who apply to these top schools have those same credentials; Jill just is not standing out in her application to me.
Jenny is someone who I can visualize as a real person outside of her material application file that I'm holding. That coupled with good grades and SAT scores and recommendations presents a MUCH stronger file than Jill's. She isn't perfect but she is someone who the admissions would take very seriously. Chances are in her favor that they will take her.
Get the point?"