Reporting Summer Program Award on Applications

Question: I attended a summer film school and I earned an award for “Excellent Skill in Cinematography.” Would this be an achievement I would place in the Honors section of my application, or in the Activities section of my application? (Seeing as I would list the film camp in its entirety as an activity)

Your “Ask the Dean” query form says that you are in “Pre-High School.” If this is accurate, then your summer-program award should NOT be listed at all.  Admission folks aren’t interested in endeavors that took place before high school unless they are truly amazing and atypical (e.g., you published a best-selling novel or qualified for the Olympics).

If, however, the form was wrong and you’re actually in high school, then it’s fine to mention the camp award although it probably will have little or no impact on your admission outcomes unless you can shed some light on the selection process for the admission folks. For instance, it’s impossible to tell from your question if the award for “Excellent Skill in Cinematography” was given to just you or to a number of other participants as well. The caliber and the size of the program will also be factors when admission officials weigh the importance of this award. So if you were the only recipient among many contenders, be sure to say so. The more selective the award sounds, the more it will work in your favor.

The “Honors” section of an application is really for academic awards, and this one doesn’t quite qualify, but it’s no big deal if you decide to put there anyway, especially if you’re applying to a film or art school or major. You may find that you have more free space under “Honors” than you do under “Activities,” and you have some leeway when it comes to deciding what goes where.  So, really, either place is fine.

But, again, if you’re in middle school (or younger), don’t report this accomplishment on your college applications, but do keep up the good work so that you’ll have others like it to include later on.