Leadership in an Application


How does one craft their application so that their leadership abilities shine through in a personal and inspiring way and does not come across as just a huge list?


Hey George!

It’s great to see you show an interest in the often under-valued ‘activities’ section of your common app. Especially in Australasia, it often seems that grades are all you need to focus on, whereas in the UK you may feel the interview component is highly important in presenting yourself on a more personal level.

The US College application process is completely different to both of these examples. In the US common application, you are offered the chance to exhibit prowess and achievement in 10 different areas of extra-curricular pursuit.

Whilst this many boxes will offer the opportunity to showcase how diverse and interesting you are as a candidate, you are completely right in that there is a risk of seeming like you do not really have a coherent personality and lack direction.

Ideally, around half these activities will be at least slightly interrelated, and ideally they will resonate with your proposed course of study in some way. For example, if you are a student that has a passion for the sciences, you may have several leadership projects that demonstrate your dedication to exploring each discipline in a multitude of ways. A candidate may decide to build an app that notifies users of when constellations and planets are most visible in their locality, found an initiative that educates preschoolers in community centres of how vegetable gardens grow, and run a regional chemistry olympiad. These achievements would be strong evidence of your dedication to the subject matter in a broad range of ways, so that when you try and convey your passion in your personal essay, it’s believable!

The takeaway is here is that your leadership activities will serve you the best when they help to build a personal narrative that makes you seem genuine, focused and well-rounded. That is the kind of person that offers the most to an academic community to your college of choice, so the more you can demonstrate that, the better.

Best of luck!