Are you wondering what five things you should never list in the activity section of your college application? In this blog, I’m going to share some of those with you.
Number one is elementary and middle school activities. Do not list those on your college application. They happened already; they are over, and they’re done. Is it okay if you’ve been playing piano for twenty years to say that you’ve been playing since you were three? Yes, you can put that in the description if you feel like that’s warranted. There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you won the Junior Olympics when you were in eighth grade or something in tennis, you can write that in the additional information. I feel like that might be legitimate because it’s so significant, and if something’s really, really significant, you can add it. But if it’s just activities you did in middle school, don’t just feel like, since you haven’t gotten to ten activities yet, you have to put some eighth grade activities in there. Don’t do it. It’s weird and awkward.
Number two is the test prep and tutoring that you received. I know you might be spending ten hours a week at that test prep center. But do not ever list that or tutoring; I don’t want to know that you’re going to weekly tutoring because then it undercuts my knowledge of how you’ve achieved what you’ve achieved. So, I generally say don’t list prep, test prep, or tutoring. Are there some exceptions to that? Sure. If you’re part of some special scholarship program that includes tutoring, or if you’re doing this baseball program and tutoring is part of it, that’s fine.
Number three is fluffy social media accounts. If you have an Instagram account and you have 10,000 or 20,000 followers, but it’s just you in a swimsuit or about fashion, colleges don’t want to know that. And it doesn’t really help you get in if it’s fluffy. Now, if you’re using your social media account for good or you have serious subscribers, for example, if you’ve got 100,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel where you’re helping people learn calculus or something like that, that’s pretty impressive and pretty cool. And you’re also doing something good for the world. So think about what is in your social media account. Is it just fluff? And how big are you? Are you an influencer who’s built a business? If so, then maybe you can list that because you’re doing deals and you’re making money. You also have to think about how these colleges might look up your account. So if your account makes you look dodgy, cheesy, gross, or whatever it is, you’ve been warned.
Number four is casual babysitting. And I might even add dog walking to this. I once had a kid who built a very elaborate dog-walking business. And he had five dog walkers working for him and stuff. That’s fine because that’s a business, and you’ve built something. But generally, if you’re just walking a dog or two or babysitting a couple of kids or two, it makes it look like you’re grasping for activities. I’d rather see six really strong activities than you dribbling down to dog walking and babysitting your friends. Now that being said, caring for your siblings, having a family responsibility, or caring for your elderly grandma is totally awesome, and I love those. Or if you have a job working for a company, like if you work in a preschool or doggy daycare, it’s a little bit more legit. But again, if it’s just casual babysitting, you’re stretching.
Finally, number five is disability or mental health affinity groups, particularly if you haven’t disclosed that you have a mental health issue or a disability elsewhere in your application. If you have a depression support group that you are maybe not leading but being a part of or participating in, you just told the school you’re depressed. That’s kind of awkward, right? If you have ADHD and you say ADHD awareness, you know, a national organization where I meet once a week with people from all over who have ADHD too, just be really careful about listing that stuff. You don’t want to wave a flag in front of people’s faces, especially if you’re not talking about it or if you feel like you’re not already going big with it. And it’s not anywhere else in your application. And it doesn’t need to be on your application. Do not offer up information that could help people disqualify you.
There are five things that you should not put into your activities. Do you have any other ideas of activities that you’ve thought about putting that maybe you should or shouldn’t or that you’re not sure about? Go ahead and ask in the comments, and I’ll let you know what I think. Hope this helped you guys narrow down some of the activities to list on college applications!