This lesson covers... how your UC activities list should be laid out, what great examples look like, and how to make your list awesome
By the end you should... have a solid understanding of not only what is required of you, but also how to stand out on this part of your application
Time 12 minutes

First, why is the UC Activities List important? While your personal statement shows who you are, your Activities List shows what you’ve done. Keywords: leadership, responsibility, impact

The UC Activities List is more comprehensive than the Common App Activities List. Why? Because the UC Activities List gives you 30 blanks for inputting your information (with 160 characters space for describing each activity), while the Common App only gives you space for 10 activities (and 150 character descriptions).

TIP: Make your UC Activities List first, then you’ll choose your Top 10 for the Common App and cut down the 160-characters descriptions to 150, if needed.

Let’s get started...

The UC application will ask you to split your activities into…

  • Educational Prep Programs

  • Volunteer & Community Service

  • Work Experience

  • Awards & Honors

  • Extracurricular Activities

You’ll get to list five for each of these five categories (so you’ll have 25 slots). 
IMPORTANT: Try to fill all the "Volunteer & Community Service" and "Extracurricular Activity" spots. I know that sounds like weird pressure, but do your best.

ACTION ITEM: I want you to create a Google doc right now labeled “[Your Name] UC Activities List” with all your activities and 160-character descriptions.



Educational Prep Programs

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)
Developed study skills, received mentorship, offered tutoring in math and received tutoring in critical reading.

National Youth Leadership Forum (Stanford)
Studied medicine at medical simulation center, received hands-on training in medical procedures, experienced life as a medical student.

Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP)
Received academic and financial guidance in preparation for college. 

Volunteer & Community Service

Intern at Children’s Institute Otis Booth Campus
Brainstormed ideas for after school programs for teens,created surveys,presented data to supervisor

Member of Civics Committee
Provide mentorship support to ninth graders; responsible for assigning tutors, coordinating events.

Street Soccer Program
Volunteer for County Fair fundraising committee supporting underprivileged kids playing street soccer.

Volunteered to support Centre for Caregivers events; Model Caregivers Awards. Helped write government proposals and helped get performers backstage ready.

Global Partner for International Orientation
I help new international students with registration and adjustment to the new school environment.

Work Experience

Administrative Assistant at Shingari's School of Rhythm
In charge of customer service, managing financial accounts, recording attendance, managing inventory, and all other administrative aspects

Childcare (Paid)
Worked 3-5 days a week taking care of two children, ages 1 and 3. Responsibilities included feeding, changing and regulating bed times.

Manager, Student Store
Developed student store policies, reviewed resumes and hired accordingly and worked part time as a cashier.

Coach and Technical Analyst, LA County Intramural Basketball
Led fitness sessions, trained others in technical fundamentals; also helped with video analysis.

Korean Compassion: Korean-to-English Letter Translator
Translated letters sent by supporters to impoverished children in Asian and African countries.

Awards & Honors

Speech and Debate
Academic All-American Award, NFL Tournament Qualifier ('11, '12), Rupe Scholar, Stanford Invitational Semi-finalist, Harker Invitational Semi-finalist

Player of the Tournament
Was named Best Player in the local Lincoln Heights Invitational.

Highest Scorer
Highest scorer in annual Carl Schubert trophy between Singapore and Malaysia's under-23 team.

“Iron Man” Award
Given for "outstanding athletic performance in keeping with the physical mission of the Naval Academy.

White Water Kayaking Nationals (5th place)
Competed at the 2013 United States Slalom National Competition in Bryson City (placed 5th). Paddled Class 5 rapids. Swift Water rescue certified

Extracurricular Activities

Founder and President of Model United Nations
Organize meetings, coach students for conferences, raise money and awareness for UNICEF causes, awarded "Outstanding Delegate" at every conference attended

Intern at the Los Angeles Superior Court
Assisted a Los Angeles District Attorney by researching relevant case laws, drafting briefs, and assisting with client interviews

Research Assistant at the UCLA Psychology Department
Assisted Dr. Negin Ghavemi with a study exploring the relationship between gender, age, and sexual identity in elementary and middle school

Indian Classical and Bollywood Dancer
SSR Scholarship, VMASC 1st Place Cinematic Dance, KCCNA 3rd pl. in folk, VMASC 1st Pl. Classical Dance, KALA Kalolsavam 1st Pl. Group Dance

Strings Orchestra
Played as a cellist in the school orchestra in various evening concerts and performances throughout the year.

FYI: Programs like those below should be listed under "Courses other than A-G" or in the Additional Info section: 

Yosemite Backpacking Excursion
Learned basic survival skills and took part in team leadership training and development activities.

Narrative Writing Workshop
Attended a writing workshop during the summer after my junior that focused on the narrative and descriptive writing.

Independent Study
Researched, presented thesis as Interim Semester project on the state of the aging population in Singapore and government stance on the issue.



You only get 160 characters: how do you make the most of them? Some tips:

1. State role and organization name in the top box, so you don’t waste characters in the lower, 160 character box.

Instead of: (top box) School newspaper
(description box) I am the editor for the school newspaper (And don’t repeat words!)

Try: (top box) Editor of International Column, School Newspaper
(description box) Responsible for brainstorming, revising, and supervising articles by other writers for my column.

2. Emphasize tangible, measurable impact. 

Whom did your activity help? How many people? How much money did you raise?

Instead of: Raised money for children in Africa.

Try: Raised $3,000 to provide three uniforms and scholarships for students attending the Joseph Waweru Home School in Kenya:

3. Use active verbs to explain what you actually did (list your tasks).

Instead of: Worked at a clinic doing different things.

Try: Organized patient diagnosis notes, sterilized tools for surgeries, assisted with x-ray analysis.

4. To fit in more info: use lists, don’t use complete sentences, cut extra words.

Instead of: I raised money to donate to a school in Ghana in Africa by selling t-shirts and bracelets.

Try: Arranged advertising events, organized fundraisers, and gave presentations at school meetings.

5. Use the present tense if it’s something you still do.

Instead of: I helped tour visitors around the campus and presented some information on school history and student life.

Try: I give campus tours, providing info on school history, student activities, boarding life.

6. Aim for variety in your list, making sure your verbs aren’t redundant.

Instead of: Instructing, helping, teaching children tennis (how are these three different?)

Try: Instructing in proper technique, while imparting lessons in sportsmanship, health and integrity.

7. Include any responsibilities you had to demonstrate leadership skills.

Instead of: I swim on the swim team.

Try: Responsible for leading swim practices, planning fundraising events, assisting in recruiting process.

8. What if there isn’t much to say, or it was a one-time event?

Explain the significance of the activity: who did the event matter to and why?

Rather than: Tutored students.

Try: Provided support to fourth graders with particularly difficult math concepts. 

9. Avoid extreme language

Instead of: to help all those in need (or) to end poverty in the world

Try: to help those in need (or) to aid in the fight against global poverty

10. Use bigger words. 

Instead of: “Come up with” (or) “told people about”

Try: Develop, brainstorm (or) advertised, marketed


If you have a few minutes, it can be useful to think about what might go in your Additional Info section. What is that section? Here's a Brief Guide to the Common App Additional Info Section that explains more, and, though I wrote that post for the Common App, the advice will apply to the Additional Info section of your UC application.

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