The majority of US unis use the Common Application, a centralised application where the majority of the work is completed and sent directly to US universities.

The Common App is much more extensive than the UCAS application. In particular, the Activities Section is carefully reviewed by admissions committees and plays a significant role in the admissions decisions process.

There are 10 activities lines on this section. Extracurricular activities are anything that you are involved in that is not a part of your school curriculum (and is not homework!) Sports, music, arts, community service, societies, work experience, family responsibilities, and more. Students should prioritise their activities based on the following criteria:

  • Universities care about real commitment 
  • Universities want to understand what is meaningful to you
  • Universities want to forecast the kinds of contributions you’ll make to their campus

Carefully filling out the activities section can help a student get accepted to their first-choice university. Here are the key steps:


First, students must choose the activity type – the most appropriate activity type from the drop-down menu. This may mean asking a professional how to translate international activities within the US categories.


Second, succinctly describe your position/leadership description and organisation name—this can only be 50 characters including spaces.


Third, Insert the title of your activity and the name of the organisation – you may need to be creative with space!


Fourth, you are then given 150 characters to describe your activities and accomplishments within this activity. Be concise! No need to use complete sentences. Rather, bullet points with clear “takeaways” are preferable.


Fifth, estimate the number of hours, weeks, and years you have participated in this activity. Do not underestimate! Please include all prep work, special event commitments, and competition time.

When applying to US unis, extracurricular activities play a significant role in the review process. Ensuring your achievements outside of the classroom standout on this section is key. If you would like to learn more about the Common Application and how an A-List advisor can help, please complete the below form.

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Common App Tips: Activities Section
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