How to Build a Stellar College Application Resume (even during COVID-19)

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How to Build a Stellar College Application Resume (even during COVID-19)

After your grades and test scores, one of the most important aspects of your college application is extracurricular activities. Your extracurricular activities not only show how you spend your time when you are not at school, but also your passion, diligence, and leadership capabilities.

In this blog, we will share tips about how to decide what extracurricular activities to join that will boost your college applications, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

Why Extracurricular Activities Are Important

When approaching extracurricular activities, it is important not to approach it as simply a way to pad your resume. Yes, it is important that your resume contains impressive extracurricular activities. But keep in mind–the most impressive extracurricular activities are the ones that are meaningful to you.

Extracurricular activities are ways for you to find yourself: find your academic interests, personality, maturity, and more. The experiences that you have while participating in different activities helps you see the world in a different light and allow you to mature into a young adult.

In the end, the growth and passion brought forth by your extracurricular activities will be more impressive and noteworthy to college admission officers than just a list of a million different activities.

Which brings us to a second important point.

Why Quality is more important than Quantity

It’s freshman year of high school, and you are suddenly bombarded with a countless number of clubs to explore. You sign up for all of the clubs your schedule has time for, and suddenly, you are a member of eight different clubs!

Many students fall into this trap, thinking the more activities they have, the more well-rounded they look on their college applications. However, participating in many clubs also means the time and energy that you can allot to each club decreases. Naturally, the quality of each experience suffers when you spread yourself so thin.

When colleges look at student applications, they want to see quality of experience, not quantity. Rather than the student who was a member of 14 different clubs and volunteered at a different organization every month, they want to see the student who made a difference in a reasonable number of clubs and community service organizations, took on leadership positions, and actually cared about the extracurricular activities that they participated in.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try many things! After all, how will you know that you want to participate in a club without trying it? 

But you need to be strategic.

Just because you joined an activity doesn’t mean that you need to stay in it. If you realize that an activity is not for you or that you may not want dedicate a great deal of time to it, make the executive decision to leave and focus on the activities that you care more about and want to commit to for the long run.

Start Participating in Activities Early

It’s important to pick the activities you will focus on early, so you have time to participate in a deep and meaningful way. 

The longer that you take part in an activity, the more opportunities you have to take leadership positions. By taking leadership positions, you are taking ownership of your experiences and showing that you are making a change in your community in both big and small ways.

Not only will this be a  worthwhile experience, but it will be impressive to college admission officers.

Many students make the decision to stop activities that they have participated in since they were very young once they enter high school. When you make this decision, you need to ask yourself the following questions first: 

  • Will I be able to make something more of this activity? 
  • Do I enjoy this activity enough to balance my academics with it during high school?
  • Do I see myself advancing in skill level to make this experience more meaningful?

 

If the answer is yes, then you should continue with this experience. If it’s no, then use the start of high school as an opportunity to explore what new activity you could participate in right from the beginning of your high school career.

If you are currently in high school and not participating in any activities, start NOW!

What Kind of Activities?

Now that you know how important it is to start early and make a quality experience, how do you decide what kind of activities to join?

If you know your academic interests, then it is best to look for activities that are related to your academic interests. Not only does this strengthen your application, but it also helps you to determine if you are actually interested in what you are setting out to study.

Below are just a few examples of activities that you can join or apply for, based on some popular academic interests. Opportunities are not limited to the ones listed below! You can also join school clubs and even make the initiative to start your own organization.

While it is undoubtedly vital for students to have experience in activities related to their academic interests, it is also significant to show activities that are unique to you. 

When deciding which activities to join, think about what those activities say about you, as an applicant, student, and person.

Extracurricular Activities in the Time of COVID-19

As we continue to be on lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most, if not all, extracurricular activities have been cancelled until further notice. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do!

With the current crisis, there are so many communities in need that would benefit from your volunteering services. Below are just a few examples of organizations you could participate, some of which are right here in Bergen County, New Jersey!

Our Community Dinner Table: Bergen County, NJ

Description:

Our Community Dinner Table is an organization founded to provide stability for locally owned restaurants and provide food resources for those in dire need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our Community Dinner Table is looking for volunteers to participate in all areas of work, including but not limited to fundraising, communications, social media, graphic design, and distribution. If you would like to volunteer at Our Community Dinner Table, email communitydinnertable@gmail.com with a paragraph or two introducing yourself, your interests, skills and experience  and why you want to join the organization.

Links: www.instagram.com/ourcommunitydinnertable and www.facebook.com/CDTABLE

Making Masks/PPE

Description:

Most students and families are wary about leaving their homes, and for good reason. If you are one of those students, gather a group of friends and classmates to make masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals. Share materials and templates, and gather through Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype to discuss details and logistics. Give your group a name, and you will have an organization that you can list on your activities list and resume!

Visit getusppe.org for more details about the specifications about making masks and the steps to donating the masks that you make.

Links: http://getusppe.org

BergenVolunteers

Description:

BergenVolunteers is a resource available to all Bergen County residents to stay updated on current volunteering opportunities in the county. This resource is not only instrumental during this crisis with COVID-19, but at any time throughout the year.

Links: http://bergenvolunteers.galaxydigital.com/need/

Coursera

Description:

Coursera is a great resource to find college-level courses in specialized areas of study for free. Universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Michigan, and the Imperial College London offer courses on Coursera, and students can earn certificates after completing courses. This time of quarantine is the time to gain knowledge and hone skills!

Link: www.coursera.com

Next Steps

Even during COVID-19, there are many things that you can do, both for your community and for your resume. Research more community service organizations and reach out to see what you can do that aligns with your interests and passions.

You will help others, stay active, and impress colleges!

If you want expert guidance on how to build your personal college application resume according to your academic and extracurricular interests, give us a call at 855-346-1410 or Contact Us to schedule a consultation with our expert academic counselors!

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Jaehee Ahn

Jaehee Ahn is MEK Review's College Counseling Coordinator and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an alumnus of MEK Review's SAT Prep program. If you have any questions about our College Counseling programs or wish to set up a consultation, you can email Jaehee at acs@mekreview.com.

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