Friday, November 21, 2008

The Common App Guide: Academics

In the academics section, you report what courses you're taking this year in high school. Don't forget to mention if a class is AP, Honors, IB, or advanced in any other way!

Selecting your accomplishments for the "honors" section is difficult. What counts as an honor, anyways? Well, I classify "honors" as a distinction, either academically or in the community, but preferably on some level greater than your school. For example, if you performed well on your PSAT's and are a National Merit scholar of any sort, I'd include that. If you were selected to go to a prestigious camp or conference, like the "Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Seminar," then include that.

You can choose up to 5 honors here. If you have a list of honors and can't decide on just 5, then come back to this section after filling out other parts of your application. Because the application limits how many activities, clubs, honors, etc. you can post, you should not repeat any information. See if you need to use your honors in other places of the application first. For example, (at my school at least) National Honor Society was an academic distinction as well as an organization devoted to community service. I chose to use that my activities section instead, because the title was more than an "honor" and represented me better as a volunteer program.

If you cannot seem to find 5 honors, then think about honors on the community level. Were you distinguished for any accomplishment or activitiy? Next, look for honors within your school, but use these as a last resort. For example, you could include if you were "Student of the Month," received an honor for some sporting accomplishment, or were on the Honor Roll.

Finally, list the honors their order of magnitude. It is much easier for the admissions officer to see how great of a student you are by looking from the top of the list downward. Remember, you don't know exactly how much time they spend scrutinizing every section of your application, so you want your best feats to stand out to them.

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