So, if you’ve ever visited William & Mary for an information session and happened to take part in one of my presentations, you know that my favorite part of the application is the essay…easy. But, for the sake of digging a bit deeper than the obvious, I wanted to take a minute to talk about the extracurricular section of the common application.
I’m always a bit intrigued by how students go about prioritizing their extracurricular involvement. Is it by longevity, level of involvement or leadership role or some other non-quantitative measure of importance to you?
I think most of us would list our activities using one of the first two of the three methods I mentioned above; longevity or level of involvement. After all, it’s not very often that you read that someone is the captain of his or her lacrosse team after having read that they volunteered 4 hours a week at a home for the elderly. Or that you learn that a person is editor of their newspaper after they’ve revealed that they participate in a recreational knitting club once a month. You almost always read the most time consuming extracurriculars first and then the remaining in some random order. So, when I do see a student who lists public relations representative for the Scribes and Vibes poetry club prior to captain of cross country team, I can’t help but to think that he’s sharing which activity most impacted him.
I’ll admit that I am probably digging a bit too deeply into a portion of the application that’s just a list of activities. After all, the majority of students will include a resume that paints a more complete picture of their involvements. But when someone gives you the task of helping to select the most dynamic class that you can, you have to dig deep and look in every corner.
We say over and over that our review is holistic and that we need you to show us your personality. I know that when you hear that you think, or call and ask, how am I supposed to show you my personality through a common application…the application is as the name suggests…common to all applicants. So, how do I personalize mine? My advice is to not sweat it. Your personality can’t help but to shine through the application. You’re showing us who you are without even trying. For me, it’s the extracurricular involvements, for Dean Norris it’s the interview, for Dean Tripp it’s the optional submission. For each of us, it’s something different.
- Tish Lyte