- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

• Myth: Students have to be involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible — up to 10 — and that’s going to make them look good.

Truth: Colleges are more interested in depth than breadth when it comes to extracurricular activities. They want to see a commitment and consistency over time. Focus on three or four activities. Students should not drop an activity they are passionate about and take up something else just to show range. It’s better to stick with something they love.

• Myth: A student has to be a member of a sports team.

Truth: Students can show team-player skills in areas other than sports. Remember, colleges want to construct well-rounded student bodies; not everyone has to be an athlete for the college to have good athletic teams.

• Myth: Students have to be leaders in whatever they do.

Truth: Colleges consider leadership important, but it’s not everything. It takes more than captains to make football teams.

• Myth: Summers don’t count.

Truth: Summers should be productive. They provide many weeks to delve into a hobby, community service or travel abroad.

• Myth: Doing the minimum amount of community service required by your high school is good enough for most colleges.

Truth: Students should be doing far more than the minimum number of community-service hours. As many as 100 hours a year is advisable.

• Myth: Don’t brag about activities and accomplishments. Colleges don’t like it.

Truth: Don’t be shy. Colleges won’t learn who students are unless the students spell it out. There’s a reason the activity sheet in an application packet often is called a brag sheet.

Source: Interview with Katherine Cohen, founder of IvyWise, a private counseling practice, and author of “The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know.”

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