Three techniques you should steal:
1. Use active verbsto give a clear sense of what you’ve done:
Check out his active verbs: writing, delivering, editing, researching, re-writing, brainstorming, catching, polishing, leading, holding, knowing.
2. Tell us in one good clear sentence what the activity meant to you.
“I’m the messenger who delivers news from different continents to the doorsteps of my community.”
“I write for this joyous process of creation.”
“One day I’ll look back, knowing that this is where I began to develop the scrutiny, precision and rigor necessary to become a writer.”
Okay, that’s three sentences. But notice how all three are different. (And if you’re gonna do three, they have to be different.)
3. You can “show” a little, but not too much.
In the first line:
“VIOLENCE IN EGYPT ESCALATES. FINANCIAL CRISIS LEAVES EUROPE IN TURMOIL.”
“Leading a heated after-school brainstorming session, watching my abstract thoughts materialize onscreen, holding the freshly printed articles in my hand…”
The first one grabs our attention; the second paints a clear and dynamic picture. Keep ‘em short!
Example 2: Hospital Internship
When I applied to West Kendall Baptist Hospital, I was told they weren’t accepting applications from high schoolers. However, with a couple teacher recommendations, the administration gave me a shot at aiding the secretaries: I delivered papers, answered phone calls, and took in patients’ packages. Sadly, inadequate funding shut down large sections of the hospital and caused hundreds of employees--myself included--to lose their jobs. But then Miami Children’s Hospital announced openings for inpatient medical volunteers. Again, I faced denial, but then I got a chance to speak to the lead inpatient medical physician and cited my previous experience. While working at MCH, I delivered samples, took down visitor information, administered questionnaires, and organized records. I helped ease the work of the nurses and doctors, while delivering medicine and smiles to dozens of patients. I may not have directly saved any lives, but I’d like to think I helped.
Three more techniques you can steal:
4. Start with a “problem to be solved.”
Did you initially face an obstacle? In the first sentence say what it was, then in another sentence say how you worked through it. That’ll show grit. Note that this essay has not one, but two obstacles. And each time the writer worked through it in just one sentence. Brevity ftw.
5. Focus on specific impact. (Say whom you helped and how.)
Read the ending again:
“I helped ease the work of the nurses and doctors, while delivering medicine and smiles to dozens of patients. I may not have directly saved any lives, but I’d like to think I helped.”
This applies to fundraisers too (say how much you raised and for whom) and sports (who’d you impact and how?).
6. Write it long first, then cut it.
Both these students started with 250-300 word statements (get all the content on the page first). Then trim ruthlessly, cutting any repetitive or unnecessary words.
Extracurricular activities? (Photo credit: ksevik)
Many parents and students do not understand the importance of extra-curricular activities. Over the years I have had to persuade a number of parents to allow their children to continue participating in extra-curricular activities, because they felt that these activities distracted their offspring from their academic work. This scenario tended to unfold either when a student was struggling academically or when the student wanted to focus totally on academics, to the exclusion of everything else. They felt that extra-curricular involvement was a waste of precious time and that it caused their children to get home too late in the evening.
Nothing could be further from the truth than this notion of wasting time. Academic subjects and extra-curricular activities complement each other and develop a well-rounded, socially skilled, and healthier student. There are so many possible extra-curricular activities that each student can choose one that appeals to him or her personally. Activities range from athletics, various sports, scouts, girl guides, debating, music and chess to paramilitary groups like the cadets. This list is not even exhaustive. Some students choose more than one pursuit.
Extra-curricular activities help to develop the whole student. We cannot just produce one-dimensional students in our schools. Many students use their skills in extra-curricular activities like athletics or sports and their academic ability to gain athletic or sports scholarships to various universities. Numerous students from my former school are granted athletic scholarships to American universities in this way.
Researchers like Massoni, Erin ( 2011 ) and others have listed many benefits derived from participation in extra-curricular activities at school. I have seen the same benefits among my former students. Let us consider some of them.
Students who are involved in extra-curricular pursuits tend to improve their academic grades as well. This may be due to increased self-esteem, motivation and better time management. They become better organized in the classroom. They demonstrate a reduction of at-risk behavior and a heightened sense of belonging, resulting in better behaviour.
They learn useful new skills from their chosen activity, and in integrating these activities into their everyday school lives, they learn time management, critical thinking, teamwork and social skills. They develop life-long relationships with their peers and learn how to lead others. These skills will be beneficial in later life and in the workplace.
Extra-curricular activities also foster a sense of commitment to a cause or purpose and they reduce selfish behaviour. Students become more marketable in the workplace.
Through the avenue of extra-curricular activities students find it much easier to gain admission into universities. Modern universities are more interested in recruiting students who have something to offer besides academic qualifications. They seek out students who can make a contribution in other areas to the university and the society at large. Many universities and some schools make money and gain prestige through their extra-curricular engagement in various arenas.
Hopefully, more parents and students will see the importance of extra-curricular activities and diversify and deepen their interests and hobbies. The whole society will benefit. Finally, as one of my readers, AKGM, commented below: “A lot of careers are built directly from hobbies.”