Extracurricular Activities

<p>I'm an international freshman applying for admission to sophomore year at some highly selective American colleges. I'm confused about how to present my extracurricular interests so as to capture the attention and favorable opinion of the admission committees. I know this is HUGE, but I am in desperate need of advice and would really appreciate whatever you have to say to help. :)
I enjoyed writing, theater, singing, volleyball, badminton, and community service in high school. I've only received formal recognition for my participation in the two sports; as I studied in a small school in Saudi Arabia, where there are limited opportunities for girls, there weren't many contests to participate in or awards to win for the other activities. I just had fun with them.
My favorite activity is writing; I like experimenting with different forms such as poetry, short fiction, script, and creative nonfiction. I've also begun writing a novel. I'm a member of the online community at The</a> Online Community for Writers - Writing.Com. Additionally, I was the founding editor of a newsletter in school. Likewise, I'm a founding editor of a university periodical. I performed lead roles in a couple school musicals and record monologues which I then put online. In the first semester of college, I joined the theater club and acted in a play for a college competition. I sang in a couple talent showcases in high school and in a program at college. I also sing at home and put my amateur work online.
As for community service, I've done a variety of things within school, as public opportunities were almost nonexistant. I joined the student council and served as secretary and class representative because I wanted to improve student life at my high school. Through student government, I organized fundraisers for the victims of the Haitian earthquake, a charity drive for a local orphanage, international day celebrations, a spelling bee, and a free end-of-year social. I also managed the group website. I tutored Saudi girls in English, a subject their schools don't teach till the sixth grade. Furthermore, I raised money for the victims of the Pakistani floods. I also used click-to-donate websites such as Care2 and FreeRice to give to the needy. As a devout animal lover, I recently decided to focus my volunteer work on the environment and the mute beings we share our world with; I see this as my second most important extracurricular. I organized a recycling drive in high school. I became a P.E.T.A. activist, turned vegan, and went online with my campaign against animal cruelty with a blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I joined the wildlife club at college and organized educative trips, plantation drives, and a presentation by a renowned conservationist. I've also begun volunteering at a local shelter and writing for an animal publication.
Over the summers, I couldn't participate in extraordinary internships or jobs because I would always go home to India in those months, to a part of the country where such opportunities weren't available. Summer activities included reading, working on college applications, and traveling around the state visiting relatives.
How much of all this should I include in my application? Writing and environmental activism are definitely going in. I feel like the community service that I've done throughout high school is significant, but is all of it worth mentioning? Singing is something I love to do, but I'm no expert. Also, for the part of the application which asks for a brief elaboration of an extracurricular activity, what exactly are colleges looking for? An account of a particular experience? Or a general explanation of the significance of a certain activity? Which of my extracurricular activities do you think would make for a profound interesting read? Does it look bad if the activity I choose isn't one on the top of my common application activities list?</p>

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for the part of the application which asks for a brief elaboration of an extracurricular activity, what exactly are colleges looking for? An account of a particular experience? Or a general explanation of the significance of a certain activity?

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<p>For the list of ECs w/short explanations, you have a limited space to describe (from the CA instructions):</p>

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details of your activities and accomplishments (specific events, varsity letter, musical instrument, employer, etc.

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<p>So, they want you to list what you did and the results, including leadership positions. You will not have space to discuss the significance of the EC.</p>

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Which of my extracurricular activities do you think would make for a profound interesting read? Does it look bad if the activity I choose isn't one on the top of my common application activities list?

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<p>I think that logically, the short essay about an EC should be about one of your top activities. If you put the most energy and time into this EC, it should also be the one that is most significant to you and which you want to elaborate on. This is where you can discuss the significance of your EC.</p>

<p>Perhaps I'm just an old fogey, but I would be careful about putting too much emphasis on things like being a member of an online community, or using Facebook, Twitter, etc. to promote a cause. Unless you can concretely demonstrate a significant impact as a result of your actions, this type of activity is pretty nebulous.</p>

<p>Hey, thanks so much for reading through all that and offering me your opinion. I agree with your comment about social networking; it's not very meaningful. When I asked about elaborating on an extracurricular activity, I was referring to the short answer part of the application's writing portion: "Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below (1000 character maximum)."</p>