A Note of Introduction from AdmissionsDaniel: Part four of our guest entries that reflect on parts of the admissions application. My colleague Shannon Miller tackles the topic of the extracurrircular activity list or as many of us call it, the resume. Shannon's advice should absolutely be followed as you present this crucial information in your application.
Are you currently filling out your college application, but think you need more room to talk about your extracurricular involvement? Are you unsure about what to include in this list? Are you struggling to include all of the information that is necessary? Do you need more space to discuss a significant accomplishment or role you have played in an activity?
If any of these questions are running through your head, you may want to include a resume along with your application. Since extracurricular activities are a very important part of the application process, especially at Johns Hopkins, you want to be thorough when describing what it is you do outside of the classroom.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when presenting a resume along with your application:
(1.) Do be organized and concise. As counselors are reading over 1200 applications a year, we want to learn more about you, but do not have a lot of time. Stick to the basics: name of activity, years of participation, important leadership roles, specific projects you have played a major role in, accomplishments, etc.
Don’t exceed 2 pages with your resume. We should not be seeing resume attachments that are 10 pages long!
(2.) Do focus in on activities from your high school career…that means 9-12th grade.
Don’t tell us that you were student of the day in 4th grade…you get the idea.
(3.) Do think broadly about activities you are involved in. Your resume should include everything from after school jobs, summer internships, and research projects to clubs, organizations, volunteer work, sports, and musical instruments. You may also have a unique hobby you want to share with us.
Don’t include activities that are part of your daily life such as “likes to eat breakfast,” “is a good sister to younger brother,” “walks the dog,” or “watches TV.” Believe it or not, I have seen ALL of the above listed on activity lists.
(4.) Do list a website if it can show us more about what you do. This might be a better way to send us supplemental material… a link to a newspaper article which talks about an accomplishment, a link to an organizations page which describes an event you have put together, a link to a page which contains data about research you have done, etc.
Don’t send us a link which contains photos or information we don’t want to see! Remember, we look at everything…so if there are inappropriate pictures, foul language, or personal items on a page, think twice about putting it in your application. Also, be sure the links are still in use and correctly written out. Many times, we have tried to view websites, only to find they are no longer available, broken, or spelt incorrectly.
(5.) Do spell out activities that are an acronym. While we know what NHS stands for, there are plenty of abbreviations for groups across the US that might be confusing to counselors. For example, if you write NFL, are you part of the National Forensics League or National Football League? (Ok, I think it’s safe to assume Forensics, but hey, you never know)
Don’t forget to detail activities. It is important to go beyond and acronym and tell us what it entails. Keep in mind though that by briefly I mean a phrase or sentence. No need for a book.
As you can see, a resume can be really helpful if you remember to be organized and concise, think broadly about the activities you have participated in during high school, and include all pertinent information about your involvement. Follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts, and the admissions committee will be able to see the impact you can make on their campus community.
Editor's Note: For additional information on the resume, extracurricular activities in the admissions review, and also supplemental information check out these discussions on the Hopkins Forums: Extracurricular Activities / Work Experience and Supplementary Materials w/ Application.