Admissions

Help ... I have NO Extracurriculars for My Common App

Adobe Stock

I am filling out my Common App and I have no extracurriculars, and I mean none. I haven't joined a club or worked a job or anything organized like that. I do play tennis and disc golf with friends all the time -- can I include that? I have also babysat my brother but not for money. Can that count? If I like to bake can that go on there? Seems like a stretch but I really have nothing else to list.


Admission officials are always eager to learn what students do outside of class time, and not just through the same-old-same-old school clubs and sports teams that they see on applications about 717 times on any given winter weekend. So your baking, babysitting, disc golf and tennis are all quite application-worthy.

In the small amount of space provided on your applications (and/or via a separate "annotated" resume where you add a sentence or two describing your assorted undertakings), try to provide a little more information than merely the name of each endeavor, adding a touch of humor here and there if it comes naturally to you. For instance, instead of just saying, "Baking," you might have room for, "Experimental pastry chef for family guinea pigs. (Who knew that chili sauce and chocolate frosting would be so compatible?)"

Here is an old but once very active College Confidential discussion thread on "Hidden Extracurriculars" that may help you identify other pursuits that could be fodder for the "Activities" section of your applications.

And here is a recent "Ask the Dean" question from another current senior, like you, who worried that her Activities list might be woefully short. You can read how "The Dean" advised her.

Bottom line: If you're aiming for Ivies and those other hyper-selective places where the lion's share of applicants have near-perfect grades and test scores and thus where impressive extracurriculars can help accomplished candidates stand out in the crowd, your own short list of more personal pursuits might hurt your acceptance odds. But at most colleges and universities, the admission folks just want to see that you're doing something constructive with your time ... and they may even be relieved that it's not a something that they've already seen a gazillion times before!

******

If you'd like to submit a question to College Confidential, please send it along here.