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Articles / Applying to College / Reporting Summer Program Award on Applications

Reporting Summer Program Award on Applications

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 15, 2015

Question: I attended a summer film school and I earned an award for “Excellent Skill in Cinematography.” Would this be an achievement I would place in the Honors section of my application, or in the Activities section of my application? (Seeing as I would list the film camp in its entirety as an activity)

Your “Ask the Dean” query form says that you are in “Pre-High School.” If this is accurate, then your summer-program award should NOT be listed at all.  Admission folks aren’t interested in endeavors that took place before high school unless they are truly amazing and atypical (e.g., you published a best-selling novel or qualified for the Olympics).

If, however, the form was wrong and you’re actually in high school, then it’s fine to mention the camp award although it probably will have little or no impact on your admission outcomes unless you can shed some light on the selection process for the admission folks. For instance, it’s impossible to tell from your question if the award for “Excellent Skill in Cinematography” was given to just you or to a number of other participants as well. The caliber and the size of the program will also be factors when admission officials weigh the importance of this award. So if you were the only recipient among many contenders, be sure to say so. The more selective the award sounds, the more it will work in your favor.

The “Honors” section of an application is really for academic awards, and this one doesn’t quite qualify, but it’s no big deal if you decide to put there anyway, especially if you’re applying to a film or art school or major. You may find that you have more free space under “Honors” than you do under “Activities,” and you have some leeway when it comes to deciding what goes where.  So, really, either place is fine.

But, again, if you’re in middle school (or younger), don’t report this accomplishment on your college applications, but do keep up the good work so that you’ll have others like it to include later on.


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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