5 Ways to Make Your Activities List Awesome


You only get 150 characters to list an activity on your college app: how do you make the most of them? Like this:

1. To fit in more info: use lists, don’t use complete sentences, cut extra words.

Instead of: I raised money to donate to a school in Ghana in Africa by selling t-shirts and bracelets.

Try: Arranged advertising events, organized fundraisers, and gave presentations at school meetings.

2. Use active verbs to explain what you actually did–and list your tasks.

So instead of: I worked at a clinic doing different things.

Try: Organized patient diagnosis notes, sterilized tools for surgeries, assisted with x-ray analysis.

See how that makes it sound like you actually were involved?

3. Use the present tense if it’s something you still do.

Instead of: I helped tour visitors around the campus and presented some information on school history and student life.

Try: I give campus tours, providing info on school history, student activities, boarding life.


4. Aim for variety in your list, making sure your verbs aren’t redundant.

Instead of: Instructing, helping, teaching children tennis (how are these three different?)

Try: Instructing in proper technique, while imparting lessons in sportsmanship, health and integrity.

5. State role and organization name in top box, so you don’t waste characters in the lower, 160 character box.

Instead of:

(top box) School newspaper

(description box) I am the editor for the school newspaper (Don’t repeat words!)


(top box) Editor of International Column, School Newspaper

(description box) Responsible for brainstorming, revising, and supervising articles by other writers for my column.

Q: Hey, what about the UC application activities list?

A: You get 30 characters for the title and 160 characters for the description. Use them (just as) wisely.



Written by Ethan Sawyer – In addition to being the College Essay Guy, Ethan is a writer, teacher, speaker, and voice actor. He has worked at Elite since 2003 is also the coordinator for the Elite Community Scholars Program, a program very close to his heart. You can email him at ethan.sawyer@eliteprep.com. The views expressed in this blog post are Ethan's and don't necessarily reflect those of Elite Educational Institute.