2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How do I get achievements to fill that section in college apps?

My interests are dancing, programming/coding, and tennis. But I'm pretty sure I don't have any achievements currently.. So how do I get some and where should I look to get some. What specifically are colleges looking for in this area of the application? How many items do I need to put in that section in the common app to be competitive?


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1 answer

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

That is an excellent question and I can relate to you because I also love tennis and programming/coding. First of all, when colleges say "achievements", it doesn't always mean achievements like medal, certificates, or trophies. Achievement could also mean showing excellence in a certain area.

Colleges want to see you develop your interests during high school and also showing commitment to those activities. You already have the first step down: finding and narrowing down your interests to 2-4. Now, it is about developing your skills in those areas and showing excellence. Time commitment and development of skills go hand in hand. Meaning that if you are committed, you will likely excel and vice versa.

So, how can you develop these activities? Well, taking private lessons for tennis/dancing, taking computer science courses offered by your school or maybe even offered outside of school. Taking private lessons, not only shows time commitment but it also makes you better at the sport/subject.

So how do you show excellence? This part is taking your skills and time commitment and putting it to the test. For example, you would want to compete in tennis tournaments or dance competitions and try getting a higher ranking. Excellence can also be shown if you make the school junior varsity or varsity team for the respective subjects. For programming, excellence can be shown by creating a game that you publish online that many people play. Or making your own app.

And lastly, don't worry about the "number of items" you need to put. You can put 3, 10, or 1. It really doesn't matter. What does matter is the fact that you show excellence and time commitment. Having 5 mediocre activities is the same as having 2 really good activities. So it really depends no you and how much time you have.

Hope this helps!

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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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