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Thoughts on these Environmental Extracurriculars/Passion for Williams Admissions?

BlueRidgesBlueRidges 2 replies0 threads New Member
edited December 2018 in Williams College
Hey, I'm applying to Williams right now, and it is among my top choices. I was wondering if you all might have any thoughts on whether my extracurricular involvement in the environment looks impressive or not. FYI, I'm in an online high school, so these activities are all outside of school. I have pretty good academic stats (see farther below) but definitely not as amazing as some folks who got in do.

--Founded the Southeast Nature Society early this year, a nature-minded community organization with two chapters and membership in seven states. Acted as a resource for members’ outdoor-related questions, provide specialized trip recommendations based on interest and skill, wrote monthly newsletters, and led a few group hikes. Administrated two social media groups for nature lovers with over 12,000 members each: North Carolina Hiking & Waterfalls and North Georgia Hiking & Adventure. I founded the first group, later became an admin for the other.

--Created the Georgia Waterfalls Database as a project for the Society, featuring nearly 500 waterfall listings of every waterfall I know of in Georgia. Nothing of the likes of this database existed before in Georgia. The site saw approximately 8,000 visitors in the first 5 days following its inception in October 2018. The database was shared by the US Forest Service via social media as a resource for the hiking community.

--Wrote a 400-page hiking guidebook, “Georgia is Beautiful – 88 Lesser-Known Hikes”, also a Society project, hopefully to be published in Spring 2019 by a publisher upon completion of edits. Might be published before admission results but more likely in May-June.

--Due to my involvement with the environment, I was appointed as the only high school student on a local city-affiliated committee, the board for the organization "Keep Roswell Beautiful". Attend monthly board meetings about beautification projects for the city of Roswell, vote on resolutions. Assist with website updates.

--Founded HikingTheAppalachians.com, an informative website where I published trail reports for over 300 hikes throughout the Southern Appalachians with directions, maps, and photos. Ranging from 4,000 to 11,000 visitors per week. Many testimonials published on the site highlight the value and benefits of this resource for the hiking community. I consistently hike every Saturday year-round up to 18 miles a day and gather information from these hikes as material for the website.

There's a few other extracurriculars but not that significant. Took chess classes for 4 years, played chess online and in tournaments but no awards; Took Tai Chi (martial arts) classes for 2 years and reached orange belt; Took voice lessons and music appreciation lessons for three years, participated in recitals.

Commendation Letters from Lori Henry, the mayor of Roswell, and from Mark Williams, the Commissioner of GA Department of Natural Resources.

Three Georgia newspaper articles featured my work – two in Northside Neighbor and one in The Northeast Georgian.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards – Two Honorable Mentions in Writing and Photography (2018).

Freelance Writing – Wrote an article published in Dahlonega Magazine.

Photography – Nature photos featured on US Forest Service website, Western North Carolina Magazine, The Appalachian Voice, and Only in Your State.

Public Speaker
• October 2018: 1.5-hour presentation, “Hidden Waterfalls and Lesser-Known Hikes in Georgia”, at the distinguished Chattahoochee Nature Center. Received a commendation letter from Carla Bell, the event organizer, who said the presentation was ‘well-received and sparked many questions’.
• November 2018: “Music and Nature Relationship” at the Music, Nature, and Us Event at European School of Music.
• October 2017: “Learning Through Hiking” at Unicoi State Park.
• July 2017: “Natural Treasures of North Georgia Mountains” at Unicoi State Park.
• May 2017: “The Art of Nature Photography and Hiking” at Blairsville Arts and Crafts Festival.


3.98 unweighted GPA, 4.25 weighted. 2 AP classes in junior year (AP Language & Composition, AP US History), 3 AP classes currently taking in senior year (AP Physics, AP Literature & Composition, and AP Microeconomics (1 semester)). Most other classes from 9th through 12th grade are Honors, except Spanish (took 3 years of reg. Spanish). Confident I will have either A+ or A in AP Physics and AP Literature for mid-year report.

1530 SAT (760 reading, 770 math). SAT Subject Tests trailing some unfortunately. Only 650 in Literature, 700 in Math 1. Should I even report these if Williams has them optional? AP tests also trailing a bit. Got a 4 on AP Language/Composition, 3 on AP US History (poor memorization was my demise, I figured I wouldn't report this one).

I plan to submit an art portfolio to Williams. I'm self-trained in photography, started learning in 2014. I think my nature photos are fairly distinguished for a high school student but can't say for sure.

So, I would love to hear what you all think as far as how all this extracurricular work looks, particularly in the realms of the environment, nature, and photography. To me, it certainly seems to overpower my academics (really wish I'd taken more AP's and more subject tests). Thanks!! I already know how hard it is to get into Williams and other high-ranked schools, so I'm definitely applying to some safeties, but Williams has so many things I love about it (location, undergraduate attention, housing, etc.) that it is possibly my top choice. I would probably aim for a major in Environmental Studies, but might do a double major with Neuroscience (that is another strong interest of mine).
edited December 2018
5 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: Thoughts on these Environmental Extracurriculars/Passion for Williams Admissions?

  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2262 replies104 threads Senior Member
    Welcome to College Confidential, @BlueRidges.

    Congratulations on your achievements!

    Yes, your extracurriculars seem to show passion, commitment, and accomplishment, which are good things.

    You might consider leaving out the subject tests, since, although they are certainly fine scores, they do not enhance your application in comparison to your excellent SAT scores.

    Be aware that neuroscience is not a major at Williams, although it is a concentration (which is kind of like a minor).

    No poster on College Confidential has a crystal ball to be able to say what the admissions officers will think of your complete application package in comparison to those of other applicants. But give it a try, and maybe you will be heading out on a WOOLF backpacking trip at the start of freshman year!
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  • MisterMicawberMisterMicawber 32 replies6 threads Junior Member
    The extracurriculars may assume particular importance in light of your attending an online school. So you need to emphasize them. Williams being a place where they make a surprise holiday annually called Mountain Day, your environmental work would look very good.

    With that in mind, the guidebook would certainly be a major feather in your cap. If it is definitely going to be published, you should trumpet it loudly, and you should get on top of the business end to know if you have a commitment to have it published. In academia that's known as being "in press" -- and being in press is considered a publication. Most students applying to college do not have anythi9ng like a published book to their credit!

    And I second GreyKing's suggestion that you do not report your subject SATs.
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  • BlueRidgesBlueRidges 2 replies0 threads New Member
    edited December 2018
    Thanks for the suggestions! Good to know that you guys think it's best to leave out the subject SATs, as I wasn't sure myself.

    As far as the guidebook goes, the main reason I put it off on the backburner is I decided to publish the Georgia Waterfalls site first, and I won't have time to work on the book until the mid-year report probably. Do you think it's really important to get it published ASAP? The book itself actually is about 80-90% done (I worked on it a lot over spring and summer), but a lot of editing must still be done. I could probably do it faster self-published.

    I really wish I could emphasize the extracurriculars more beside the very limited space given in the Common App activities section. I covered them in the main Common App essay, but obviously, you can't fit in that much there, since it needs to be a story too. Wonder if they might allow me to send my resume as a supplemental material (I already have it done because I submitted my resume to a different school).

    edited December 2018
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  • MisterMicawberMisterMicawber 32 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Self-publication does not count for very much, so don't unless it's really the only way your book will ever be published. What I was talking about was getting yourself under official contract and deadline (which doesn't have to be until after your apps are well out of the way) to have the book out. That contract (or to a much lesser but still significant degree, letter from the publisher) is regarded as "in press" and is basically considered publication -- at least for profs. Most colleges would love to have a freshman with a book coming out from a real press. As for ways of emphasizing the extracurriculars, there's also the "optional" essay (which is never optional). Sure, send the resume, but you've got to have prose that points to it, makes them want to read it, and puts it into context as part of the overall portrait.
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  • TennisParentTennisParent 243 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I believe on the Common App there is a page for "any additional info", you could copy in a link to the "published" guide which should work. Best of luck, your commitment and activities to date are very impressive, this will shine through, so don't overthink things too much, speak to your passions from sincerity and all will be fine.
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