This process should take approximately 15 minutes – 1 hour to complete depending on the quantity of your activities and level of your involvement.
Items marked with a red asterisk * are required. Students are not required to complete items that do not have the red asterisk.
Colleges care about how you choose to spend your time outside of classes because it helps them understand you better and how you might be involved on their campus. The purpose of this section is for you to share with colleges your responsibilities, interests, accomplishments, and skills.
In this section of Common App, you will list and briefly describe the activities that you have participated in during high school that take place outside of the classroom. You can provide information about the following types of activities:
- Artistic or musical activities or achievements
- Clubs, both those at school and those outside of school
- Community engagement or community activism
- Family responsibilities, such as helping take care of a younger sibling, working to provide income for the family, or regularly assisting an adult relative
- Work or volunteering, including after school, summer jobs, or internships
- Other experiences that have been meaningful to you
In this video, we discuss how to complete the Activities List. We provide advice about what types of activities to include and what information to include about each activity. This video will take approximately 7 minutes.
In this video, a writing expert discusses how to write descriptions of your activities in a way that is effective, concise, and meaningful. This video will take approximately 6 minutes.
Tips & Reminders
- List your activities in order of their importance to you, with your most important activity at the top.
- Colleges do not prefer one type of activity over another type. They are curious about the significant ways you spend your time.
- If an activity can fit into more than one category, just choose the category that you think fits best.
- You do not need to write your descriptions in complete sentences. In your descriptions, think about the importance of the activity to you, any skills you developed, any impact you had, any awards or special recognitions you received, and your responsibilities. You don’t have a lot of space so be concise.
- You do not need to fill all ten activity spaces in this section. Many students don’t.
Even though you have limited space to describe your activities, you can still provide colleges with a lot of information about your activities. Here are a few ways to do that.
- State your role and the organization’s name in the top boxes for “Organization Name” and “Position/Leadership Description” so that you don’t waste characters in the lower, 150-character box for describing the activity.
- In the activity description, use active verbs to describe your work, responsibilities, and what you learned.
- Don’t use complete sentences and include the impact of your activities on others, if relevant.
Here are three samples:
- Club/Activity: Eagle Scout
- Community Service: Volunteer At Animal Shelter
- Work: Domino’s Team Member