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October 19, 2021

The Road to Completing College Applications: Academics and Activities

By Maggie Chen

Once you have selected the application deadline type and completed the family section, you will move on to the academics and activities section of the application. This section is where you begin to show the colleges how you perform as a student and as a person. In this section, quality matters over quantity because of the restrictive word count given. You will have to share information about yourself without being over the top with details. 

Academics: The following section relates to your future plans as a first-year student at the college. You will be asked what major you wish to pursue. It may also ask for your GPA, class rank, whether you are applying in-state or out-of-state, etc.  

As a senior, I can tell you that high school is hard. For most, you should expect your GPA to change throughout these four years. The GPA scale at every school is different. Some scales are weighted while others aren’t. GPA changes with the grades you receive in your classes, whether the classes are regular, honors, dual credit or ACP, AP, or IB.  

Furthermore, your class rank is determined by your GPA. In the last semester as a junior, ask your guidance counselor for your rank. You should also ask if the ranking is given as a percentile, decile, or numerically. If your GPA is weighted and your GPA is high, your class rank will reflect that.  

Another question the college application will ask is if you are applying in-state (as a resident of that state where the college is located) or out-of-state. Students applying in-state will receive financial aid, whereas students applying out-of-state will have a higher tuition cost, that is if the institution is public. To check if you qualify for in-state tuition, you should visit the college’s website or meet with an admissions counselor of that college.  

Activities: In this section you should list all freshman to senior activities you have participated in, what you did, and when you participated. Colleges will also ask if you plan on participating in activities similar to the ones you have listed. Clubs, sports, community service, work experience, academic bowls, arts (band, choir, orchestra, theatre, musical lessons, etc.), internships, and family commitments (caregiving, translating, interpreting, etc.) should all be listed in this section. The quality of your activities is more valuable than the quantity of activities you have participated in. 

If you are an officer, founder, or the leader of the club, you should include your responsibilities.

You should also include any community service or volunteering you’ve experienced. If you are interested, you can volunteer at the Hamilton East Public Library at either the Fishers or Noblesville location! To volunteer for the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) contact Erin Weir  weire@hamiltoneastpl.org  or Christy Franzman franzmanc@hamiltoneastpl.org. 

Meet Maggie

Hi! I am Maggie Chen and I’m American-Chinese. I speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. My hobbies include collecting 3D Crystal Puzzles, purses or handbags, pillows, and music albums. I also enjoy listening to music, reading Webtoons, trying DIYs or crafts, watching TV shows, traveling, and learning foreign languages. I am best described as an experimentalist and social butterfly.