I have been trying to calculate my ECs/Activities hours as accurately as possible because I am afraid that I may make a mistake and put something that is going to look suspicious. Do these look good?
9th grade 1144 hours
10th grade 1344 hours
11th grade 2316 hours
12th grade 2008 hours
At first glance it looks like a lot... but it's actually not, at least I don't think. If it isn't clear, the hours on the right are the amount I did for the stated grade YEAR including the summer break before. Of course, my senior year just started so I am nowhere near close to those 12th-grade hours yet.
Thanks for your question.
I'm not convinced this schedule is sustainable. Take for example 11th grade which is the hardest year of high school from a homework perspective because most high achieving students are taking 4-6 APs or IBs plus some honors classes as well.
So 2316/365 is about 6 1/2 hours a day. A typical day has 24 hours. If you sleep 7 which is on the low side for teens, that puts you at 17 left. Most students get up 90 min before class starts to take a shower, dress, eat breakfast, and commute, so that's now 15.5 left. School is typically from 8:30-3:30 so that's 7 hours, which brings you down to 8.5. Let's get traveling home, dinner, and bedtime routine out of the way at 90 min and you have 7 hours left to do your homework, sports, ECs, community service, and volunteerism. On average high achieving students in the junior year have 3.5 hours of reading and homework each day including weekends. So now you have 3.5 hours to do your ECs/Activities. It's not 6.5 hours. So if you want it to be 6.5 hours, you are sacrificing your grades, your sleep your quality of life.
My advice is not to assume that doing 2316 hours of ECs/Activities is what top elite colleges care about. They do not.
Colleges want the best students who can time manage their work/life balance yet are productive, happy, and kind people. Yes, it's true that some admit to Ivys and MIT/Caltech are sleep-deprived human robots that have trained themselves to be devoid of any pure joy in this world in order to get into the best possible college they can. But believe me, the best colleges in the US and world would rather not have these students because being book smart is not the end all be all. There is a reason why the most likely admits at top colleges in America have multiple attributes that are attractive which range from doing high profile leadership activities, playing varsity sports, playing a musical instrument, or dancing or singing. It's because colleges want their future cohorts to engage in these activities in college and make the campus a better place to be for everyone. Therefore, I think the quality of your ECs and Co-curricular activities trumps the volume of time you spend on them.
So it's far more important to strategically pick the things you love and are good at versus the things you think are impressive. You might think volunteering 500 hours at a community center is impressive. But a college admissions officer might be more impressed with someone who spends 100 hours fundraising $50,000 to build a community food bank that they can hand off to the next generation of 10th and 11th graders to run when they go off to college. You might think joining 5-6 clubs and vying for a VP position is impressive. But a college admissions officer might think using your voice to change a curriculum policy like making it mandatory to learn about the Holocaust, or enacting gender-neutral bathrooms in HS is more impressive.
If you write in that you spent 2316 hours during the junior year doing ECs and Activities, let this be a fair warning that if I can do the math in 1 minute, that AOs are experts, and the first thing they will do is a quick calculation like 2316/265 = about 6.5 hours a day, and red flag that.
You are going into senior year as you say. So you should decide whether or not you want to chance it or adjust those numbers back down to a level that is believable. The other thing is that if you didn't achieve a lot of Tier 1 and Tier 2 honors/awards for all these hours, then that doesn't look that impressive to an AO reading your application. Think about it most parents don't even spend 45 hours a week at their jobs earning a living so how were you able to spend 45 hours a week on ECs.
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