What They are Looking for in these Admissions Essays
The admissions committee wants to admit students who will be active in the community and care about things outside of themselves. The 3 primary things they will be looking for in these admission essays are:
The extracurricular activity that you selected
The reasons you selected this extracurricular activity
How this activity has shaped your development and/or outlook
The Extracurricular Activity You Select
Think hard about the different activities you care about. The goal is to paint a picture to the admissions office about what makes you unique and separates you from the myriad other applicants.
It is perfectly acceptable to think “outside the box” and select an issue for these admissions essays such as caring for a disabled sibling or helping an elderly neighbor. The activity you select does not necessarily have to be school or church sponsored.
Your Reasons for Selecting the Extracurricular Activity
The admissions committee wants to learn more about you, not necessarily the activity you selected. As a result, be sure to include your personalized reasons for selecting the particular activity as your favorite — or most important or significant, or other variant included in the essay version you must answer.
How this Activity has Affected You
It is not often asked explicitly, but you will want to include how the activity has affected you and your development. It is a perfect way to keep the essay centered on you, the applicant as well as show off your analytical and communication skills by describing how this activity has impacted your development.
Some Additional Thoughts on these Admissions Essays
All colleges — and in particular the most selective ones — want to admit students that will give back to the campus community and enrich the lives of those around them. Contrary to what you might want to believe, they are not looking for quiet, shy students who will take copious notes during class and then disappear into the library until the late hours of the night. Every school would rather have a 3.5 GPA student who is involved in campus activities and contributes to class discussions than an introverted 4.0 GPA student who does not do these things.
What is our point? This is the ideal essay to demonstrate that you fall into the former rather than the latter group of students.
A Final Word of Warning
Do not rehash your many accomplishments in this essay. This will not read impressively. Besides, you can include them in the schedule in the application.