Crafting Your Activities List for College Applications

Crafting Your Activities List for College Applications 150 150 Explore Solutions

 The activities portion of an application provides students with a valuable opportunity to showcase talents, accomplishments, interests, and leadership. It is also an area where students neglect to spend the time needed to craft strong descriptions which will allow admissions officers to quickly grasp a clear understanding of their accomplishments. For this reason, Explore Solutions has created a few resources for students to utilize as they construct a thorough inventory of their activities. Screen Shot 2019 08 09 At 8.28.34 AM

Some students may become anxious because they are only able to fill in a few of the spaces on the Activities Worksheet. Remember, this is an inventory of your high school accomplishments and activities and NOT an assessment of a student’s worth or their value to a college or university. Focus on presenting what you do have in the strongest possible manner. Our handouts below will assist you with this task.

This is a time-consuming activity. By getting a head start on completing this document prior to when applications open in August, students will save themselves time and stress.

We highly recommend that students print out these resources and READ them. Once a student has finished completing their Activities Worksheet with the provided documents they can then send it to Cynthia ( for feedback. Send as a Word document and not a PDF so that comments and suggestions can be inserted directly into the document.

Basic Tips for the Activities Section

  • It is okay if you have fewer activities than space allotted! 
  • List your most significant activities in the order of importance to YOU.
  • Choose a different word at the beginning of each description line. Begin with a strong verb. Examples: implemented, collaborated, initiated, coached, led, coordinated, and researched. Choose a verb that best fits the activity.
  • Use present tense for activities that are ongoing; past tense for those that have concluded. 
  • Make sure to add upcoming senior activities, even though they may not have started at the time of your application completion. Ex: spring sports.
  • Keep your punctuation consistent. If you opt to end one of your descriptions with a period, make sure they all conclude that way.
  • Quantify and qualify your activities rather than providing general explanations. For example, if you helped with fundraising efforts through Key Club, also mention the actual amount of money you raised, in addition to the name of the charity that received the funds. If you placed first in a local competition, was it first out of three individuals or 30? Provide the context so that your accomplishment is recognized accordingly.
  • Think outside the box for which activities to list. You are not limited to only including school-sponsored clubs and organizations. If you spend 10 hours per week babysitting at home – list it! If you enjoy tinkering with computers in your spare time – that counts, too!
  • Read the Documenting Your Activities and Honors document. This document has many more key tips for completing your activities resume.

RESOURCES TO COMPLETE YOUR ACTIVITIES WORKSHEET: Click the links to access the documents.

Activities Worksheet Word document: Due to the University of California changes to the application’s activities section, new worksheets have been created. The biggest change is the character limitation for the UC descriptions, it has gone from 160 characters to 500 characters!

HOWEVER, even though the character limitation is 500, students should not feel compelled to use all the characters unless they have substantive information to add.

Because the Common Application and the UC application are so different now, two worksheets are required.
2019 Activities Worksheet Final 8 1 19 Common Application
2019 Activities Worksheet Final 8 1 19 University Of California

Click the links below for resources to craft your college application activities section:
Documenting Your Activities and Honors
Common Application Activity Type Choices: Use this to complete the first column called “Activity Type” in the Activities Worksheet

See the example below of an athletic entry for the Common App application:
Activities Example

Use action verbs in your descriptions – see resources below:
Action Verbs List
Resume Power Words
Link to great action verbs:

Use this document to help you stay in the character limitations of the application:
Make Characters Count in Activity Grid