Activity Lists

, ,

Choosing Your Extracurricular Activities: It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

Quality Over QuantityThe other day I was working with a student who was talking about all of the clubs and activities he was involved in. After we had written everything down, the list was at 15! Fifteen different clubs and activities and when I asked him why he was involved in so many different things, he had a simple answer.

Because he thought he had to.

A situation like this is typical. High school students feel they have to be involved in so many different things so that they stand out in the college application process. The truth is, when you’re piling all these sports, activities, community service, club meetings, theatre performances, etc. onto your plate, you’re investing your time and energy for the wrong reasons. You’re spread thin and end up showing a college that you don’t have a commitment to anything.

Instead, students should be focused on making the most of their activities outside of class by doing things they enjoy and are good at. This is called building a brand.

What’s a brand you ask? Well, think about what you are interested in; how much do you really know about what it will take to do well in this program and, ultimately, in the profession? If you want to major in nursing, have you volunteered at a hospital? Have you considered taking a class to earn your EMT license? For mechanical engineering, have you been involved in robotics? Maybe looked at local community colleges to take a CAD course? For design, have you interned or worked part-time with a local designer? Do you have a portfolio? Journalism majors, have you written anything that has been published either on a blog or through the local newspaper?

The point here is that you can invest your time blindly and hope that a random combination of activities will stand out. You can operate on assumptions and hope that they will lead you to something. You can be ignorant of the fact that colleges are trying to build dynamic classes which are comprised of interesting students with unique talents, skillsets and backgrounds.

I think it makes more sense to dedicate time to building your brand by doing several things:

1.) Complete a job-shadow with someone who does what you want to do

2.) Volunteer your time to a cause or organization related to your field

3.) Find a part-time job that gets you in the door somewhere where you will learn more about your major or your intended field

4.) Join or create a club at your high school that allows you to participate in activities related to your intended major

5.) Join professional organizations or associations related to your field. They often have programs for high school students and opportunities to be mentored by a current professional.

6.) Check with your high school to identify any “school to career” programs or internships.

If I was still reading applications for an admissions office, I can tell you that a student who had compiled a handful of in-depth experiences that were related to their major would have stood out to me much more than the student who had gotten involved in a bunch of activities that had no connection to one another.

As I tell my students all the time, it’s about quality, not quantity.

If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.

Here’s what other families like yours are saying about how Dobler College Consulting made a difference for them.

Read More

College Counseling Tip Of The Day – Get involved in activities that you love…

…not ones you think colleges will love. When it comes to activities and how they affect your applications, they do matter but where they really, really matter is when they are important to you. So if you’re going to invest your time in something, do it because you will get something out of it, because you will have fun doing it and because you will learn something.

Read More

College Counseling Tip Of The Day – Get involved in activities or groups that you find interesting

Better yet, find things that you believe in and which help you learn more about what you want to do with your life. Whether it’s through your high school or the local community – there are opportunities everywhere to start building your brand. Nothing you feel passionate about yet? Be willing to try something new.

Read More
, , , , ,

Why Your Application Needs To Stand Out

Each year the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) puts out a report called, The State Of College Admission. The report is free for NACAC members while non-members can purchase a copy for $25. The report talks about trends in college admission as reported by college admission officers and high school counselors from around the country. One of the statistics from this year’s report that I wanted to share with you today was the average number of applications that each admission counselor reads.

According to the report, the average college admission counselor in 2005 read 359 applications. By 2011 that number had nearly doubled to 662.

Think about that for a second. You are one of nearly several hundred applications that will cross an admission counselor’s desk in a very short period of time. Having reviewed thousands of applications in my old admission days, I can tell you that admission counselors do their best to give each application the time and attention it deserves. But when your application underwhelms or does not tell your story in full color, well, that review and the decision to say “no” can be painfully quick. Admission counselors want to connect with you as an applicant. They want to get excited about you. And they want to say “yes.” But sometimes it becomes very hard for them to do just that simply because you didn’t make the most of your application.

So, instead of putting off your college search to the last minute, start researching schools now and then visit some college campuses this spring. Think about what you might want to say in your personal statement and then record your ideas for when you get down to the writing process over the summer. Think about who you would want a recommendation from and plan on talking to them before the end of the school year. Create an account on the Common App and go through each section to familiarize yourself with how it works and what information is required. This will be great practice for when the new one launches on August 1st. Start a list of your activities, honors and accomplishments – great or small, so that you don’t forget anything when it comes time to completing applications in the fall.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what you want an admission counselor to know about you and why it should matter to them. Then, as you go through the next several months, spend time putting together an application and supporting materials that ensure your application will be one that motivates an admission counselor to say, “YES!”

Have something to say? Use the comment box below or email me at If you think this makes a lot of sense, consider sharing it with someone you know.

Read More
, , , , ,

Do You Need A Resume?

A couple weeks ago I invited Sharon Epstein, an award-winning essay writing and college interview coach, to talk about tips for awesome essays. If you didn’t get a chance to read the post, here it is. Read it. It’s really good!

This week, Sharon invited me to write about resumes for her blog, Applying to College.

Check it out and, and always, let me know what you think!

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

Read More