College Essay Advice: How To Write About An Extra-Curricular?

The Rushmore Beekeepers. I'm a member, but also its founder.

The Rushmore Beekeepers. I'm a member, but also its founder.

The New York Times' lovely blog, The Choice, has recently done a couple of posts that don't seem to be intentionally linked but have an interesting relationship regarding an important question many have asked about their college essays. What's worth writing about when it comes to extra-curricular activities? Is it worth it to spend your time discussing something that's already on your resume? And is it a no-brainer to write about the most remarkable one on the list? Should we always write about the thing we've stretched furthest and hardest to do?

Extra-curriculars are the worst victim of resume padding there is. They tend to be easy to add (or even make up), and every school has several that require little or no work most of the time. But we generally know even before we're asked which ones are important to us. We know which ones were added because we love them - the ones we'd be happy to do without even being credited for it - and those that were asked just to look good on paper.

What you're perhaps less likely to believe is that the person reading your essay can tell, too. Even if he or she hasn't met you. And it's not because the activity is rare or sounds fake, but that a lack of passion will almost invariably be revealed in an essay.

What's most important when choosing what to write about is not whether it seems the most exceptional, or seems like it took the most amount or work, or even the one that needs the most explaining. It's the one you can write about in an excited, engaging, and specific way. When you find these topics, you're golden, because you will be able to articulate what it is that fills you with that excitement, and only then will the reader understand what makes you, you.

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