Should I bring up a controversial extra curricular on my application?

Hello, let me thank everyone for taking the time to help me.

This thread is not about weather you agree with me or not but about if I should mention my activism on my college app.

I am wondering if I should put an extracurricular that includes controversial opinions in my application. I work with the National Youth Right Association to fight ageism. The things that we advocate for aren’t super controversial but are still pretty controversial, people seem to especially oppose it when I bring it up on here. We advocate for removing or lowering minimum ages and more importantly fundamentally changing the way young people are treated. I feel strongly about this, strongly enough to spend many hours of the week on it.

I feel like if I don’t put it on my app I am missing an opportunity to show colleges that I am actively engaging in the community and being an activist. But then the other half of me feels that the adcoms are going to disagree with me and reject me for my beliefs.

It’s a very tough decision. What do you think?

Again, please try not to turn this into an argument about weather you agree/disagree. I am looking for real advice here.

I don’t think your involvement this organization will be a problem (even if not every admissions officer agrees with every aspect of the organization’s mission). IMO unless an activity is truly offensive, illegal, immoral etc. then you should be proud of what you are doing and include it in your application. The idea of the application is to show who you are/what you are doing etc. and this is one way to do just that.

And if by some odd chance one admission officer says no to your application solely because of your involvement in this organization (which I doubt)…well that probably wouldn’t be the right college for you anyway.

Tough judgment call. AOs are human. They work at an institution and institutions have many, many rules and structures in place. You’ll be essentially informing them that you’re likely to organize others to fight the rules the institution has in place…

Not sure I’d personally take that risk.

You could get an open AO who focuses on the fact that you’re involved and spend time working to change things you think are wrong. Or you could get an AO who sees that and thinks you’re going to be one of the students inciting crowds to set trash cans on fire to protest the current drinking age.

My opinion only, but why take the risk they will worry about what you will do on campus? If I had any other ECs, I’d list those an omit any that might give a college a reason to pause.

IMO not a tough call at all. AOs are way more jaded than you might think. Absolutely put it in. Write it true. Absolute worst case they think ‘näive’.

A positive, engaged young adult? that’s great. Go for it.

How much time do you spend on it? If a lot, be honest and put it in. If not a lot, it’s just cheap filler. Even were it a “bad” thing to put on, by this point the die is cast. You are you, and cannot be otherwise. Present yourself to adcoms as you are.

I am not going to debate but if I remember from past threads, you are applying to colleges at age 15 and only want certain colleges that dont waste your time with too many prerequisites and will allow you to mostly only take courses about financial and investment banking.

What about you being an activist shows you will be successful in your chosen field? I would perhaps focus on how what you are doing now helps you for your future. AO may see it either way and feel its a positive or a negative but I think you need to be true to yourself, list it, and accept their decision whether its a yes or a no. However, I could see you attempting to claim ageism if you do list it and they decline you for admittance to their college (even though they may be saying no for many other reasons). In time you will find the right school for you. You need to do what you feel is right for your own conscience and deal with the consequences both good or bad.

@RelicAndType I spend a lot of time on it.

I’m not so sure about presenting to the AOs things that they might not like. I see college admissions like a car salesman trying to sell a car to the customer, you wouldn’t want to tell them about something bad on the car. I need to sell myself to the AOs.

I think with the right descriptive tone about your involvement, it’s perfectly fine to put on your application. I wouldn’t personally write your common app essay about it, but putting it in your EC section should be just fine.

Yes, you need to “sell” yourself, but no, the AOs are not looking to sell you a car. Ofc, If your essay is ‘you lot are everything that is wrong with world’ well, that’s not going to sell you.

Post #6 leads me to think that you are making the same mistake that many posters make about their essays: they focus too much on telling their story (of abuse, coming out, passion in life) and not enough on showing where that story is going. What have you learned from your activism so far? what have you done with that learning? how have you adapted / changed / grown? based on that, where do you see yourself going? how will that activism be used? The point is to sell you, not the specific cause. You should be able to write the essay and substitute [generic cause] pretty easily.

I remember your story now…IMO the way issue will be your age, lack of prerequisites, finishing HS in one year etc. - not this activity.

Agreed and think thats a great way to put it. From previous posts you are a very driven teen with a narrow focus and goal. It shouldn’t be about just selling yourself as a current snapshot but rather showing how what you have done so far is going to make you successful in reaching your goal. You say you want to be an investment banker so how has your time in xyz EC’s and your classwork thus far shown you will be capable of doing this. Hearing another story about a smart homeschooled teen entering college early isnt all that exciting or special. They want to hear why you’ve made the choices and done the things and how this has made you an excellent candidate for their college and life in general.


The Age Discrimination act of 1975 prohibits discrimination based on age in College Admissions. If there is reasonable evidence that they deny me because of my age, the university will very likely find themselves in a lawsuit.

I think it would be “lack of maturity” that would be the deciding factor, not your chronological age.


Possible, but if the essays and extracurriculars do not show a lack of maturity then they have no reason to suspect me being immature.

Now they could claim that the reason is a lack of maturity but that could easily be interpreted as age if there is no evidence in the application to prove immaturity by a judge.

@Homeschooler14, it would be next to impossible to prove age discrimination unless it were at a school where you should be an auto-admit. “We just didn’t find his essay as compelling as that of the other students we admitted” is a perfectly legitimate reason to turn you down.

@Sue22 If its a very selective school then yes you are correct. But say it was a school such as ole miss (and many more), with my 35 ACT there is no reason for Ole Miss to reject me. I think I could definitely prove age discrimination in that case.

Review CC. There are hundreds of posts about students with perfect grades and amazing EC’s who get declined from colleges. All having nothing to do with their ages. Per your example, Ole Miss has about an 83% acceptance rate. That means that even some “great candidates” get declined. Rigor of high school curriculum is reviewed and they could be declined based on that as well. I dont see anything on Ole Miss website that states “If you get a 35 on your ACT you are guaranteed entrance”. Im happy to be wrong though.

Maturity is knowing how to present oneself in the best possible way and being honest. You asked about if you should list the EC or not and only you can answer that question. Depending on how you frame it, it could be a huge benefit or quite frankly mean nothing at all.

I think that unless the school admits people solely based off of stats, or has auto-admit policies, it would be near-impossible to prove age discrimination. They could say that they thought your personality doesn’t fit what their looking, or that you didn’t demonstrate enough interest in them, or something else like that. Even just on this site, you can find posts where people were accepted to t20s, but were rejected from their safeties.

@2plustrio No, there is nothing in their website that says if you get a 35 you are automatically in. But you have to consider who the school usually admits. Ole Miss has rejected very very few applicants with 35 ACTs and the very few that they did reject likely had some other flaw.

I am a student with a 4.0 unweighted GPA, 35 ACT, very high SATII scores, 4s and 5s on AP exams and I did this in a rigorous course load. There is absolutely no reason why I should be rejected from a school like ole miss. Yes my Extracurriculars are slightly better than mediocre but still not terrible.

Repeating this, read CC and you will see that many amazing students are rejected from what they would consider “safeties” and it has NOTHING to do with their age. You even admit that Old Miss does reject people with academic stats like yours but you still think you are above and beyond that for some reason.

Again, not going to argue with you. Read through some of the advice above on how to use your EC’s in a way that may highlight your successes and goals. I dont think simply listing NYR as an activity is going to gain a ton of “points” and tip the scale in your favor. Using NYR to showcase how its made you a better student, person, potential future investment banker, then that might be helpful to you.

Apply to the schools you are interested in and deal with the acceptances and rejections like the thousands of other high school graduates do.