Admissions Essays Applying to College

Dos and Do Nots for the Short Activity Essay

 

If you’re using the Common Application, you have met the short activity essay. Aside from the main essay, or the personal essay, the Common Application requires you to write the short activity essay. You may also have to write a similar essay required on an individual school’s application in supplemental materials.

The activity essay is about 250 words,so it is not so much an essay as two to three paragraphs. In other words, you should not worry about a thesis statement, an introduction, or a conclusion.

Here are some other DON’Ts for writing the activity essay:

  • Don’t start with the prompt. The prompt usually reads: What is your most meaningful activity and why? Don’t begin your short essay with: My most meaningful activity is….
  • Don’t assume that because it’s a short essay a few sentences will suffice. It’s not short answer, but a short essay.
  • Don’t be just matter of fact. What the application is seeking is to learn what you’re excited about.
  • Don’t think the college is asking about a school activity only. Extracurricular experiences do define you and can reveal things about you, but you may also have been involved in community activities, hobbies, or projects that give equal insight into who you are.

DOs for the activity essay:

  • Do start in the middle. Start by putting the reader right in the middle of the activity you participate in.
  • Do give specifics. Show what you do in the activity by writing about your experience with details.
  • Do think about enhancing your résumé by elaborating on an activity you have listed; also think about introducing a new side of you that may not have gotten onto your résumé but is a passionate hobby or an unusual learning or community experience.
  • Do try to summarize how this activity has made a difference for you in a sentence you include.
  • Do try to be concise and not go over the word limit.