How should I list my high school activities on the Common Application?

Students can often use assistance with these descriptions and working with me, they learn how to write succinct summaries of each activity, so their achievements are well documented and show the impact they had in each club and organization. I recommend writing the descriptions offline and review them someone unfamiliar with their school to ensure the names of organizations are understandable. If you say you were the head of Project Action, but you don’t describe your contributions to it, the reader will skip over that activity and the end result is the same as if you were never involved in it.


  • Ten activities is a limit, not a goal.
  • List activities in rank order from highest to lowest importance to you.
  • List activities in backwards chronological order – most to least recent.
  • Put activities in which you have held leadership positions toward the top.
  • The maximum number of characters with spaces for the position/leadership description is 50.
  • The maximum number of characters with spaces for details, honors won, accomplishments is 150.
  • Be sure to check the character counts with spaces on any revisions.
  • Use numerals instead of words for numbers.
  • Use 1st and 2nd instead of first and second.
  • Don’t use the word “I”, as this is understood.
  • Don’t list the years you participated in an activity, as they will appear in the participation grades section. However, do note the year(s) you held leadership positions and/or received an award, e.g. Captain (10, 11); Sportsmanship Award (10)
  • Remember—the ampersand is your friend:  &

Imagine you are an admissions officer reading your application. Make sure your activities list is clear and informative.


Wow! You have been such an enormous help! Your professional expertise and perseverance have been wonderful! There were many moments over the past few months that I never thought those applications would meet the deadlines. You spared me from having to nag and inquire (I did a little). I am terribly grateful!