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How to Write the Common App Activities Section

2 Min Read
December 08, 2022

by: Saeka Minami Kalpika

Common Application, or Common App for short, is a centralized admission portal for over 900 college institutions, including Ivy League schools and elite universities like Stanford, Caltech, and the University of Chicago. In addition to the Common App Essay and college-specific supplemental essays, you will also need to complete the Common App Activities section when applying to college.

The activities section is one of the 7 sections in the Common App that you need to fill out. According to Common App, “activities may include arts, athletics, clubs, employment, personal commitments, and other pursuits.” Basically, every venture that you do outside the classroom qualifies as an activity. This section can show your interests, passion, and pursuits. You can list up to 10 activities, so make sure to highlight the most meaningful ones!

This article will give a brief information and basic know-how to ace your activities section in the Common App. 

Section Overview

For each activity, Common App will ask you to fill these basic information:

  1. Activity type (e.g., art, athletics, community service, debate/speech, foreign language, research, social justice, work)
  2. Participation grade levels (9, 10, 11, 12, post-graduate)
  3. Timing of participation (during school year, during school break, all year)
  4. Hours spent per week
  5. Weeks spent per year
  6. If you intend to participate in a similar activity in college (yes/no)

Then you have to briefly describe the activity and your position. You have limited space in these fields, so you may need to simplify your grammar or abbreviate some words.

Characters allowed:

  • Position/Leadership description - 50 characters
  • Organization name - 100 characters 
  • Activity details, honors won, and accomplishments - 150 characters 


List your activities

You can list your activities in order of importance and impressiveness. Activities that are listed earlier should capture the admissions committee's attention, so point out what activities that matter to you.

Tell a “story”

Make the activities sound as impressive as possible. Write down the skills and achievements that you acquired and what impact that you brought while doing them. It will also be a bonus point if the activities influenced your ambition for college. 

Put related activities together

Instead of putting eight or nine random activities in various fields, it's better to list down two to three activities with the same theme that you were dedicated to. This helps to show your growth and consistency to the field that you have interests in. 

Tell your achievement in a quantifiable way

Be specific with your contribution and achievement. If possible, you can tell it in numbers so the admissions committee has the idea of how big your impact is. For example, instead of writing “Created a fundraising and clothes donation campaign”, you can also add “raised Rp15,000,000 and gathered over 100 clothing items”.


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