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How many EC hours a week are expected by highly-selective colleges?

typiCAmomtypiCAmom 526 replies30 threadsRegistered User Member
edited September 11 in College Admissions
My question is inspired by another thread which mentions 30 hours of EC’s plus 15 hours of family responsibilities a week - I didn’t want to highjack that thread, but that got me thinking - would my daughter look like a “low-weight” in college admissions?

She has a rigorous courseload of 5 APs and 1 DE class and about 10 hrs/a week of non-athletic in-school EC’s that take no extra time to get there, so ”pure time”. She also has about 10/hrs a week of non-school AC’s, and probably spends about 8 hours or so transporting herself to and from, since many are just 1-2 hours long each week. Still, it is just 10 hrs, not 18 of pure time.

She also has family responsibilities that vary week to week, and can’t always classify as responsibilities - I.e. she coaches her younger brother in swimming for an hour a week (+ 1 hr to/from pool), but she also attends some of his swim meets, which may add another 5-6 hours a week. On top of that are 2-4 hours a week of house chores - she is reluctant to list them on the application because we are not low-income and she is not financially forced to do these things so that her parents can work a second job, etc.

There are only so many hours left in a week after adequate sleep, eat + hygiene and school are subtracted, by my calculations 45-50 hours. Of those hours, at least 10 need to be devoted to homework, 28 to her current EC’s (that appear as 20 in the application), which leaves about 7-12 hours a week she spends on house chores, coaching her brother, working on college apps, and going out with friends for a couple hours a week.

The question is - should I suggest she stops doing house chores and coaching her brother/attending swim meets and gets a job for say 8 hours a week, to bring her app-listed EC hours to 28? Is there an expected range selective colleges want to see?

I know everyone says “follow your passions and do what you feel drawn to”, but at the end of the day, if that doesn’t align with what colleges are looking for, you are out of luck.

Thank you!
edited September 11
14 replies
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Replies to: How many EC hours a week are expected by highly-selective colleges?

  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom 1185 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My friend's daughter was accepted to U Penn this past admissions cycle. 0 volunteer hours. She did a couple of school clubs and a sport. There's no magic bullet. While I wouldn't list chores on my app, I wouldn't push my kid to stop them for something else just for applications. I don't think that will be the tipping point.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 38927 replies6879 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    should I suggest she stops doing house chores and coaching her brother/attending swim meets and gets a job for say 8 hours a week, to bring her app-listed EC hours to 28?
    No, unless you/her needs the money.
    Is there an expected range selective colleges want to see?
    I don't think there's a magic number, but I also don't think that any number above 20 will meaningfully improve an application.
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  • TheBigChefTheBigChef 538 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    For highly selective schools, It's not about a set number of hours. It's about accomplishments, results and impact. Things that will make AO's think - we want that kid at our school.
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  • mountainsoulmountainsoul 47 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm not an expert just a parent of a kid admitted to a selective college. That said, I don't believe there is a magic number. Between sports, community service, and school clubs, my daughter averaged 20 hours per week. Adding a job just for additional hours to list on college apps seems unnecessary.
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  • NCKrisNCKris 209 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I agree that there is no magic number for EC's, however they are extremely important in the sense that, the colleges want to know how you spend your time outside of school.
    One thing that caught my eye in your post, that Homework for 5+ AP classes is only 10 hrs weekly (less than her weekly chores! )

    The question is, are her chores or family responsibilities taking away time from what she really wants to pursue ?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7004 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My D was busy but not so busy that she wasn't expected to be a contributing member to our household. IMO, that teaches responsibility and self sufficiency. Keep doing what you are doing!
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 11
    Quality, not quantity. That's not just titles. You dont need to be the grand poohbah but it does help to get out of hs thinking, where you just walk down the hall to some school sponsored thing.

    I find it hard to believe that other kid is putting in 45 hours/week.
    edited September 11
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  • happy1happy1 22773 replies2243 threadsVerified Member Senior Member
    Agree, there is no magic number. What is accomplished/learned through ECs is way more meaningful than the number of hours one spends.
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  • typiCAmomtypiCAmom 526 replies30 threadsRegistered User Member
    @NCKris, thanks. She has a free period at school that she uses to do homework, that’s an extra 4 hours a week I guess. One of those AP’s is AP Research, and I guess they haven’t really started on the big project yet. I don’t micromanage her hw, so don’t know if she’s cutting any corners with it, but since she gets all A’s, I just don’t ask. Now that you brought it up, I am starting questioning it myself - how many hours a week is expected from someone with her schedule.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1325 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think many kids can get to 25-30 hours a week pretty quickly. For D20, it's at least 40 hours not including regular class time:

    Aca Deca - 15 hours a week (5 days a week, 3 hours a day after school. Does not include some weekends)

    Student Government - 5 hours a week (school district meetings, working mandatory school events, etc.)

    Part-time job - 15 hours (3 times a week, 5 hour shift)

    School clubs and community service - 5 hours a week.

    **in addition, she doesn't play a varsity sport anymore but she would spend 15 hours a week Freshman - Junior years. These kids are busy, much more than I ever was at their age!
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  • typiCAmomtypiCAmom 526 replies30 threadsRegistered User Member
    @socaldad2002 wow, that is really a lot... doesn’t leave her much time for anything else, does it?
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1325 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    typiCAmom wrote: »
    @socaldad2002 wow, that is really a lot... doesn’t leave her much time for anything else, does it?

    Ha! It seems like a lot but she has always been "overscheduled" since elementary school and she seems to handle the heavy load pretty well.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 12
    Doing so many hours in each week isnt common, ime. Kids work different activities in different patterns. They balance what's effective.

    Just because some stuff their weeks doesn't mean it's the goal. Minor clubs or *random* hours of service aren't as important as the larger picture. You can pursue interests and they can impart life lessons. But in the end, top adcoms are not counting hours, not impressed by filler.

    I like to suggest these 3 points. Things you do based on your own interests (hobbies, music, things related to your possible major. The easy example is the CS kid in robotics, the poli sci kid getting involved with local a local rep or advocacy group, etc.)

    Then things with your groups (hs peers, your religious or cultural identity, etc. Might be orchestra or band for a .musician. And then efforts for people in your community, because you see the need and get involved. A widening circle. Covers the bases. CYA.

    There's obvious overlap. But again, quality matters, how you think, stretch, give back, have some impact, even small. Climbing out of the hs box, what the hs offers.
    edited September 12
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41788 replies450 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Actually, I'd say your daughter does too many hours - she seems overscheduled with little down time.
    Also,there's no such thing as "pure time", if it takes her 18 hours it's 18 hours even if some of it is transportation (just like athletes) and if she does it, she should list it. Caring for a sibling isn't just for lower income kids and is likely meaningful if she stays for the swim meets so it should be included.
    In the end, what matters is what she achieves, not the time spent (although achieving much without putting in the time is rare).
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