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Articles / Applying to College / How Should I Count Participation Hours for a Club I Founded?

Oct. 26, 2016

How Should I Count Participation Hours for a Club I Founded?

Question: This is a rather general question that I and a lot of my classmates have (we're international students). We'd all really appreciate it if you could clarify it:

If a student started, say, a club in her senior year, what should she put in the weeks/year section of the Common Application? – the number of weeks that have already been completed, or the number of weeks she's expecting to complete across the year? Thank you so much for your time!!


The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. ~Robert Burns

And thus you shouldn't put down more weeks on your application than you've already completed so far, but you can use your 150 Common App characters to explain what lies ahead:

Example: Founded & am heading sci-fi book club. Going strong after 6 weeks with heated discussions (and great snacks). Have high hopes for the next 8 months.

If you're also submitting a separate résumé, you can write a bit more there to explain your involvement and goals even further. Note, however, that–while college folks will appreciate the effort involved in launching this enterprise and will value an especially unique idea–they will pay the lion's share of attention to endeavors that show ongoing commitment, rather than to a brand-new one.

But if your club does rock on all year, you can send an “Update Letter" to your target colleges somewhere around late February or early March (depending on their notification date) which provides additional information about the fledgling organization and your role in it. This “Update" concept can be especially helpful if you were deferred in the Early Action/Decision round. By late winter, most seniors (who have been busy with school work and other applications) haven't had time to cure cancer or sing on Broadway, so they are scrambling for material to include in a post-deferral Update. The success of a club you created in the fall is certainly appropriate fodder for this list.

But, meanwhile, it is NOT appropriate to credit yourself for the hours of service that you are merely anticipating right now.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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