What’s an Activity Sheet? Well, on The Common Application, you are given the opportunity to include “Additional Information” about yourself in the form of an Activity Sheet. This is in addition to the activity listing, where you have a dozen spaces to list extracurricular activities. The Activity Sheet is a page or more that you can format and write, and then upload directly under where you send in your core essay on the Common App.

The idea is that you can provide more details about your activities beyond those you listed in the extracurricular box. There’s considerable debate in the college counseling community as to whether you should include anything, such as an Activity Sheet or resume, and if so, how you should present it and what it should include. In a nutshell, the best advice I’ve seen is that it’s a good idea to include the Activity Sheet only if you have a specialty you want to showcase, and/or if you feel the listing of activities did not accurately represent all your interests and passions. If you do decide to include an Activity Sheet, most experts agreed on these points:

1. Don’t just duplicate what you already listed and explained in the extracurricular activities listing section. No laundry lists, please. (I would include a resume only if it doesn’t repeat what you already submitted.)

2. Keep the Activity Sheet short–one or two pages at the most.

3. Read the fine print of the colleges you are applying to to make sure they welcome these. (You could also inquire about this with your college advisor, or do a little Web research.)

I believe that if you have an area of concentration that is defining for you, I would take advantage of the Activity Sheet to highlight this. For example, if you have focused on dance, I would use this to spotlight that passion. Same with graphic design, unique jobs, an independent study project, an Eagle Scout project, acting, poetry, water polo, language study, etc. (If you need to explain a lower GPA or other academic blip in your high school record, this is an ideal place to present an explanation.) If you played water polo on the high school team, and don’t plan to play in college, I wouldn’t include an Activity Sheet on waterpolo. However, if you are on a track to play in college and possibly professionally, this could be a great place to tell that part of your story. Typically, students write these Activity Sheets on the Word or Excel file, and then convert them to PDFs, since those are easiest to upload.

If you do decide to go with an Activity Sheet, make it appealing! Use some interesting graphics, fonts and colors. I wouldn’t get carried away, but make it reflect your passion. If your passion is poetry, why not submit your best poem? Or if you are into graphic design, strut your stuff visually with a snazzy design. A fellow college essay coach has put together some wonderful templates for her clients to use to create Activity Sheets, and has shared them on her web site, Uniquely U College Essay Counseling. If nothing else, you can get an idea of the possibilities! Check out her online Activity Sheet Gallery by clicking HERE.

Still debating whether to include an Activity Sheet or not? This might help.