In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt talks about how to maximize extracurriculars for admissions.

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VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. This is Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. Today, we’re going to be discussing how do you maximize your extracurricular activities for admission. From my experience witnessing committee decisions and now advising students. there’s a common misstep I see applicants making. A big misstep is that applicants like you think that they need to do X or Y activity in order to get into their dream school. That way of thinking can lead to really bad decisions because how you choose to dedicate your time is how you choose to dedicate your life. You don’t want to dedicate your life to the wrong values and priorities. You have to choose activities that reflect your interests and not just what you’ve seen others do to get into Stanford or Pen or Columbia or insert your dream school here. Another trap that people fall into is spreading themselves too thin. Adding on activities just because they think they have to check certain boxes. This turns the vast majority of the admission pool into a bunch of blah candidates who all look alike and worse than that, it turns the students into people who don’t really know what they want and walk through life like robots. Remember to follow the best path to get into your dream school who have to follow your own path. Like my student Mike who wrote a book based on his life and published it on Amazon to great results. Or my other student Pranav who completed original research alongside an MIT professor. Or my student, Rachel, who founded her own nonprofit dedicated to educating and supporting low-income parents who have pre-mature children. Another misstep I see is on the application side. When I was on the admission committee, one of the biggest failures I saw was the failure of students to give complete information about extracurricular activities. When you apply, remember that the person reading your information has never walked alongside you before. They have no idea how hard you work and what goes into your day to day. So, it may seem strange but when you write your extracurriculars, pretend you’re talking to a five-year-old who has never heard of what you’re doing. For example, say you were secretary of the yearbook. The truth that could sound self-explanatory to someone at your school or someone a yearbook, but no one actually knows what this job entails, except for you. An admissions officer can assume that you were showing up to meetings every week and taking minutes or managing a team of writers and photographers. This position will look different at every school and every yearbook office may look a little bit different. You might push back at me and say, “well there’s no space for me to write about exactly what I’m doing because Common App only gives me 150 characters”. Yes! It is important that these descriptions are concise as well as robust. So let’s back up. Before you even apply, you want to track your participation in extracurriculars as they happen as opposed to trying to pull them from memory a couple of years later. You can use a Google Doc or sheet to easily track your progress, including how many people have been impacted by your work, what you did on a day to day basis and the number of team members you managed. While it’s not required for all college applications, it can be very helpful to put together a resume which gives you more air-time to talk about your role and impact. Now, this description can be longer than the character limit within Common App. The resume also allows admissions officers an opportunity to get some additional explanation about activities they find especially fascinating and you can even put links on your resume. When you write your resume, make sure that you follow the following philosophy: That’s metaphor X is the independent variable and Y is a dependent variable. X represents the actions that you took and showcases your skills. For example, in the secretary of the yearbook, if you took minutes every week and those minutes were used to organize the year book, Then X is you the minute taker and Y is what happened as a result of your minute taking. So, Y should explain what occurred and the value that you added. For resume template and activity list templates, I invite you to visit our website ivyinsight.com and you’re welcome to download these resources.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.