a year ago
Admissions Advice

Improving ECs?

Hi! I'm an international student in grade 10, and I'd love some suggestions on how to make my extracurriculars more spike-y and developed. I got a 1550 SAT, and I have mostly 9s predicted on my GCSEs (a 9 is an A++ in the American system). I want to apply early decision to Harvard (majoring in economics or political science), so I only have about a year and a half to really make my extracurriculars stand out.

My current extracurriculars are slightly disjointed:

- I debate a lot: I've won 1 global and 2 local rounds of a debating competition that isn't very popular in the US, I've participated in a regional debating competition where my team placed 2nd, and I'm on my school's debate team.

- I have played netball (it's just basketball with more rules) for 9 years, I've won school and club awards, I play on the varsity team at my school, and I played in division 1 for an out-of-school club.

- I have a study blog and Instagram with 40k followers; it's not just aesthetic pictures of pretty notes and stuff, I have actual advice on there. I'm also starting a Youtube channel associated with this but it's pretty going slowly.

- I started a public speaking club for girls at my school and I want to expand it so that I can help girls in other schools as well, but that's proving to be ridiculously difficult. I feel like this is something I can develop but I'm not quite sure how.

- I did 2 fundraisers where I didn't raise very much money, but I was asked to speak at multiple webinars about my experience, which was pretty cool.

- I recently finished an internship at a local online news publication, and I got a byline which was great! I'm not sure how great this will be on my applications though, since it's hardly well-known globally.

- I'm doing an essay writing course through Hopkin's Center for Talented Youth which I love, but I'm concerned that since it's just a course, it won't be regarded as an amazing EC.

I also face a few problems because of the country I live in. It's very difficult to raise money as you can only do it on one gofundme-esque website, and there are also lots of limitations around starting a business or anything like that since you need an expensive license to do so. Also, anything related to activism is an automatic no since censorship is a big thing here.

Thank you so much for any help, and have a great day :)


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1 answer

a year ago

I'm going to try my best, but here's what I can gather:

- You have lots of impressive ECs, but I have two major bits of advice:

1) I know this is hard, but pick a few ECs to continue with and develop as much as possible throughout high school. This can include leadership positions, awards, etc. Above all, colleges want to see growth, so if you have 10 impressive ECs when you walk into freshman year but do nothing to develop them, colleges may turn you away. Likewise, if you walk in with only a few ECs but are committed to getting better and it shows, that is more telling of your character (which arguably can matter more than academics).

2) If you want to apply to top colleges, another theme I see through essays and various experiences is that ECs can matter less if you connect them well in essays. Let me explain. For example, your netball EC is impressive. However, colleges, especially those like Harvard, want to see how that impacted you. What did you learn or gain from netball that you wouldn't have learned anywhere else? How will you take those lessons and use them moving forward? In some cases, kids with less strong EC profiles can still be considered because the essay explains more than the list. Some questions to consider when putting ECs on your application or writing your essay can include: How does this EC match up with my intended major? What experiences did I have that made me choose this major? How can I use what I've learned in my ECs to succeed in my major? What impact (beyond achievement) did my ECs have on me? Did they impact my character (values, etc.) or just make me look good?

I'd say with your intended major, debate seems strong. If you truly feel that the girls' speaking outreach is impossible, you can think twice, but I'd encourage you to think outside of the box and try and grow it- this helps not only with leadership but development! Perhaps you can partner with international schools or schools farther away via Zoom, or even partner with an organization? Your other ECs can still be considered, but remember that what you do with those ECs often matters more than the fact that you did them.

Hope this helps!! :)

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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