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Articles / Applying to College / How to List Summer Activities on Common App

How to List Summer Activities on Common App

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | July 25, 2013

Question: How should my child (a rising high school senior) list summer activities on the Common Application? Is the summer between 11th and 12th grade listed as 11 or 12?

There’s a new Common App (dubbed C4) coming out on August 1st, and I haven’t seen it yet. So perhaps the revised form will make this issue clearer. But, if no changes in the activities/work experience section appear, then your child should tack this summer’s endeavors onto Grade 11 … except for those (if any) that begin just before the school year starts. These can be added to Grade 12. (The Common App also allows students to indicate whether an activity was a summer-only undertaking.)

As your child trudges through the applications ahead, you’re likely to find that sometimes the forms don’t allow for the precise answer that he or she wants to give. For instance, is being appointed by the principal to the School Accreditation Committee an “Activity” or an “Honor”? Should an internship that includes a small stipend be called a volunteer position or a paying job? Rest assured that there can be more than one “right” way to respond.

Occasionally your child may need the “Additional Information” section of an application to explain anomalies. But most of the time, it’s fine to just answer the way that he or she feels is correct without worrying about whether it’s exactly what’s expected.


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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