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How Many Extracurriculars Do I Need?

“The availability of 10 fields is not intended to imply that you should list 10 activities, and there [is] no expectation that you will do so ,” says the Common App website. Aside from the typo omitting “is,” this is a good reminder. It does, however, fly in the face of the popular attitude towards extracurriculars and college applications. The acknowledgment on the Common App help page that ten spaces seems “to imply that you should list 10 activities” is evidence of the fact that many applicants do feel that compulsion, or they want to list even more than ten.

But the Common App help section is right on this. You should feel no compulsion to fill a long list of clubs, hobbies, sports, and other activities. The core of your extracurriculars list is the set of the three most important activities, in the order of their importance to you.

What you put below your top three is of less importance. The first reason for this is that in most cases admissions officers don’t have lots of time to spend scrutinizing your list. The second reason is that with that limited time, admissions officers will look at your top three, because you’re supposed to have put the most important ones up there.

Focus on your top three, and fill in the rest with whatever else matters to you. Just don’t worry about making it all the way to ten.

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