With USC’s first-year application deadline for merit scholarship consideration coming up on December 1st, many students are putting the finishing touches on their application. The Common Application provides a section for students to discuss their principal extracurricular, volunteer, and work activities. As admission counselors we know that every student is going to spend their time outside the classroom pursuing different activities, so we thought it was important to share with you some tips and misconceptions regarding this part of the application.
Tip: Focus on the activities that are the most important to you. We’re most interested in what has influenced you and your life, whether it’s taking care of your younger siblings after school, submitting poetry to be published, or playing on your school’s soccer team.
Misconception: “Applicants need to have a certain amount of community service hours to be competitive in the college admission process.”
The truth is that it’s ok if community service plays a huge role in your life or a minor one. We’re not focused on making sure applicants meet a certain checklist of types of involvements. At the end of the day, we’re most interested in that you are pursuing your interests and passions in some capacity.
Tip: Explain the organizations with which you’ve been involved! Although some acronyms are widely known, such as ASB for Associated Student Body, we may not be familiar with every nickname. Don’t assume that the people reading your application are familiar with every activity offered at your school or in your community.
Misconception: “Colleges are just interested in knowing that students keep busy. As long as you join lots of different types of organizations, you’re set.”
We hope to see applicants who have dedicated themselves to a few activities that interest them, rather than a laundry list of lots of involvements. It’s not important how many organizations you join, but what you did as a member or leader in that organization
Tip: While we are looking for students who are well-rounded and will contribute to our campus, we understand that students are going to have varying amounts of time to dedicate to different things. High school students have a lot on their plate: challenging courses, family responsibilities, trying to maintain a balanced life and hopefully have some fun at the same time! Make sure you and your interests come through in the application so that we can better understand what experiences have had an impact on you and played a role in your life.