How to Write your Extracurricular Essay without Rockstar Achievements
Not everyone has had a chance to speak at a UN conference.
Or play in Carnegie hall.
When your most valuable experiences aren’t tied to big name titles (like State Champion, National Scholar, First Place, Founder and CEO), that doesn’t mean your experiences won’t bring value to a university campus.
This article gives three tips for shedding light on some of the things that are harder to put into words.
But first: These tips piggyback off of one of another article, which offers six techniques for writing your 150-word extracurricular essay, which you should totally check out first.
Ready? Here we go:
Tip #1: Quantify your experience.
This is crucial. While you may not have a job title, a well-recognized company, or dollar signs (like money raised) that can make an activities list pop, quantifying how you spent your unstructured time shows you’ve burned the midnight oil, you’ve put in hard work, in short–you’ve done great stuff. Here’s an example:
I’ve read every book by Paul Farmer and 50+ books and 20+ films on Global Health and social justice to better understand social health care inequity.
This isn’t just for STEM folks. If you’re an artist, consider writing down all the hours spent and projects you’ve worked on, even if you didn’t get a chance to finish all of them. Here’s an example:
I’ve created ten short films, worked as an actor in seven (nominated best actor–see add’l info), and have written over 200+ pages of script.
Only you know how much time and energy you’ve put into your passions. While society values well-recognized names (“Fulbright Scholar”), competition winners, and large numbers (“$5,000 for cancer research”), things that people tend to focus less on are the endless hours of unstructured time, unfinished projects, and unrecognized work required to learn skills, develop yourself, and affect change in your community. Give yourself a chance to be proud of this time well-spent. Here’s one more example:
I’ve spent 80+ hours coding 10K+ lines of code for a natural language processing program that correlates the gender of historical figures with the number of verbs performed by each gender in the text of middle school history books (unpublished study).