kitchen table math, the sequel: 9/22/13 - 9/29/13

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Extracurricular hours per week

It's application time. Not only is there the Common App, but some colleges have their own app systems. My son also has a couple of other online apps (with essays) to fill out and we haven't even gotten to the scholarship season. The question for today is what to do about things like hours per week for activities. When you talk about a sport, people know that it's seasonal. Then again, some do three or four season soccer. My son does music year-round, and in the summer at camp, he could claim that it's 8 hours or more a day what with classes and practicing. If I convert this into a year-round weekly average, one might think that his hours are padded. This must also be an issue for sports kids and their summer camps. Do admissions people have red flag indicators on hours per week? Are their unwritten rules about how this number should be calculated? How about travel time to lessons or events?

Then there is the limited space for explaining extracurriculars and positions/awards. They want to make a holistic judgment about an applicant, but they give you extremely limited space to make your case. I know they don't want to see all sorts of fluff, but not only do they limit the number of activities you can enter, they give you almost no space to explain anything about the important ones.

Does anyone have any advice about this? Do you look for options to add in additional clarifying information? It seems that in their efforts to standardize format and to limit application thickness, they are missing critical information for their holistic decision. Essays are another whole topic. They were going over potential essay topics in my son's AP English class and one student talked about (the ideal place essay) how he wanted to talk about mowing the lawn. The teacher thought that was a good idea. Essays remind me of docudramas; heavy on the drama and light on the docu.