#College Essays and Applications

How you spend your time outside of class is very important to colleges. Spending time doing what you love is a great way to explore your interests, gain valuable experience, and help others in need. 

But how do colleges view the activities you participate in? Beyond looking for your individual participation in each activity, the categories below can help you determine how admission officers might review your resume. 

Community Service 

Authenticity is the key here: if you’re giving back to the community, admission officers want students to participate in causes that are genuinely important to them. They will review how much time you spend giving back, what impact you are making to the community, and how long you have volunteered with the organization. 

Part-Time Jobs

Admission officers view part-time jobs as extra responsibility and as an opportunity to demonstrate your time management skills and professionalism. If that job happens to be in a field of interest, then it can help corroborate your academic interests. Be sure to add as many details as possible about your role and responsibilities at your job, as well.


Your Activities Section doesn’t need to be all clubs and organizations you participate in school. Sharing your hobbies and interests outside of school is a great way to tell more about yourself. Your application should reflect who you are and what you are interested in, so if you find yourself with an extra few spaces, feel free to put in your hobbies like crocheting or surfing in the activities section. As always, make sure what you include is meaningful to you and shares more about how you spend your time outside of school. 

Art, Music, and Dance 

Playing a musical instrument and expressing yourself through art and dance are things you should share on your application, even if you are not applying to an arts-based program. These activities showcase your creativity and ability to think outside of your intended major. From working together on a dance team or ensemble or learning to let go and be creative with your art, admission offices value students who share their craft with the world and express themselves.

Family Responsibilities

Admission officers want to understand everything you do outside of class, including at home. These responsibilities are seen as important as school- or community-based activities. From taking care of older or younger siblings to translating documents for family members, the responsibilities you have at home that take up significant time in your week absolutely count as an activity. 

Much like a part-time job, understanding the context around your responsibilities will be very important for colleges to understand. Do you do these activities to be helpful or are they a necessity given your specific situation? Provide as many details as necessary to convey your responsibilities accurately. 


Playing a sport takes dedication, practice, and most notably, time. Colleges view sports as a high level of commitment and recognize the balancing act student-athletes play with their sport and their studies. Competing at a high level can show increased dedication and time management skills, especially if a student’s grades are high in strong rigor. 

Internships & Research

Students with internships and research positions either over the summer or during the school year are seen to be exploring a potential field of interest. Even if you are not planning on majoring or working in the field in the future, participating in these activities will signal to admission offices your dedication to applying your knowledge outside of the classroom. Highlight your individual contributions to projects or papers to make your role clear. If that internship or research position happens to be in the field you’re applying to major in, it will only bolster your authentic interest in pursuing the major. 

Academic Clubs

Clubs like debate, Quiz Bowl, DECA, and Science Olympiad can showcase a student’s academic prowess in both specific areas of academic interest and a general sense of curiosity. Colleges seek out active minds in and out of the classroom; clubs like these can help emphasize a student’s academic potential at their institutions. 

Ethnic, Cultural & Religious Organizations

Admission officers are not only looking for academically talented students but also ones who will fit in with their individual campuses. Affinity groups geared toward specific cultures, ethnic, or religious groups can help admission officers see how you would be a part of campus. Again, showcase your individual contributions so colleges can understand how you contributed to your community.