Are these extracurriculars good enough for the Ivy League

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MH50
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I'm currently a while off from applying to university, but I wondered if anyone could provide any feedback/analysis on my expected extracurriculars by the time I apply. I'm a UK student hoping for Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Columbia, but I realise that chances are low

- Head of Model UN
- Head of Debating club
- Head of national economics student non-profit with over 1000 members
- Head of economics club
- Winner of 10+ awards for MUN/debate, ranging from national qualification to #1 conference ranking for category etc
- Grade 8 (1-8 ranking) public speaking (highest qualification)
- Decent fencing ability, hopefully near varsity by the time I apply
- Senior in student government (there is no class president)
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Jonathanツ
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I have no idea but you're so damn ahead of... well... everyone

My extracurriculars consist of watching TV, playing video games and that's it

Best of luck you beast
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Thanks!
(Original post by Jonathanツ)
I have no idea but you're so damn ahead of... well... everyone

My extracurriculars consist of watching TV, playing video games and that's it

Best of luck you beast
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MH50
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(Original post by Jonathanツ)
I have no idea but you're so damn ahead of... well... everyone

My extracurriculars consist of watching TV, playing video games and that's it

Best of luck you beast
Thanks!
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Jonathanツ
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Like seriously, If they don't accept you, they are stupid
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kamara41
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Hi! Well done for asking about extracurriculars! They are very very very important in US admissions so the fact that you're asking about them is great.

I'm not an admissions officer so take everything I say with a huge grain of salt but I am a Y13 who applied to US unis - I didn't apply to any schools in the Ivy League, but I applied to several US of the same competitiveness, and have been blessed with some acceptances so I do know a bit.

Extracurriculars won't just be reviewed as boxes to tick off - they will be a key part in demonstrating your passions, ambition, past success etc - but, roughly speaking, with your ECs you're trying to show them four things:
- achievement
- leadership
- passion
- commitment/dedication
(Obviously, these four are all interlinked - it is virtually impossible to have achievement without dedication)

Achievement wise, you have some good stuff. Leadership definitely seems like your strongest area. Being the head of 3 clubs at your school and being in senior government at your school is awesome, but being head of that 1000 person organisation is very impressive! Passion is also evident as well. The only thing I can't comment on as I don't know how many hours a week and, how many weeks a year, and how many years (beginning with Year 10) you've participated in your ECs - these questions are part of the Common App, which is what you use to apply to most US universities.

As for whether your ECs are "good enough" is impossible to answer. Your ECs are definitely competitive and will certainly add to the rest of your application as your EC profile is really good, but the EC profiles of tons of other applicants are also really good. For schools like Harvard and Princeton, there are very few things a person can do that will pretty much "punch their ticket" into Yale (we're talking about being on Team GB or winning the international physics Olympiad*). This is not at all a reflection on you or your ECs, but of the simple fact that international acceptance rates for places like Harvard are likely around 1%, meaning that some extremely qualified applicants get rejected - it appears you know this though.

*I obviously don't mean that ONLY people who have that level of achievement in their ECs get into HYP, just that those are the only kinds of people who can get in on ECs alone (provided they have the grades to prove they can handle the work). For us mere mortals, haha, very strong ECs will need to be supplemented by other very strong areas of the application.

It look to me that you are "the MUN/econ person", so another factor that is out your hands is how many other "MUN/econ people" apply and what they look like. Colleges want a well-rounded class, so want to admit students with a huge variety of interests. I don't mean that you're necessarily directly competing with other "MUN/econ people", but more that what other applicants with similar passions ECs wise look like achievement, leadership, and dedication wise will probably influence how they view you. Dunno if that makes sense.

So yeah you probably didn't want all of that - I probably could have summed it up with: your ECs look very good, but so do those of tons of other applicants.

I'm normally much more articulate than this, haha. Anyways, hope some of that helps and let me know if you have any questions

Edit: One thing. According to their Common Data Sets, another thing US universities look at is volunteering. If you haven't, I highly highly recommend trying to get some volunteer work on your resume.
Last edited by kamara41; 4 months ago
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MH50
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(Original post by kamara41)
Hi! Well done for asking about extracurriculars! They are very very very important in US admissions so the fact that you're asking about them is great.

I'm not an admissions officer so take everything I say with a huge grain of salt but I am a Y13 who applied to US unis - I didn't apply to any schools in the Ivy League, but I applied to several US of the same competitiveness, and have been blessed with some acceptances so I do know a bit.

Extracurriculars won't just be reviewed as boxes to tick off - they will be a key part in demonstrating your passions, ambition, past success etc - but, roughly speaking, with your ECs you're trying to show them four things:
- achievement
- leadership
- passion
- commitment/dedication
(Obviously, these four are all interlinked - it is virtually impossible to have achievement without dedication)

Achievement wise, you have some good stuff. Leadership definitely seems like your strongest area. Being the head of 3 clubs at your school and being in senior government at your school is awesome, but being head of that 1000 person organisation is very impressive! Passion is also evident as well. The only thing I can't comment on as I don't know how many hours a week and, how many weeks a year, and how many years (beginning with Year 10) you've participated in your ECs - these questions are part of the Common App, which is what you use to apply to most US universities.

As for whether your ECs are "good enough" is impossible to answer. Your ECs are definitely competitive and will certainly add to the rest of your application as your EC profile is really good, but the EC profiles of tons of other applicants are also really good. For schools like Harvard and Princeton, there are very few things a person can do that will pretty much "punch their ticket" into Yale (we're talking about being on Team GB or winning the international physics Olympiad*). This is not at all a reflection on you or your ECs, but of the simple fact that international acceptance rates for places like Harvard are likely around 1%, meaning that some extremely qualified applicants get rejected - it appears you know this though.

*I obviously don't mean that ONLY people who have that level of achievement in their ECs get into HYP, just that those are the only kinds of people who can get in on ECs alone (provided they have the grades to prove they can handle the work). For us mere mortals, haha, very strong ECs will need to be supplemented by other very strong areas of the application.

It look to me that you are "the MUN/econ person", so another factor that is out your hands is how many other "MUN/econ people" apply and what they look like. Colleges want a well-rounded class, so want to admit students with a huge variety of interests. I don't mean that you're necessarily directly competing with other "MUN/econ people", but more that what other applicants with similar passions ECs wise look like achievement, leadership, and dedication wise will probably influence how they view you. Dunno if that makes sense.

So yeah you probably didn't want all of that - I probably could have summed it up with: your ECs look very good, but so do those of tons of other applicants.

I'm normally much more articulate than this, haha. Anyways, hope some of that helps and let me know if you have any questions

Edit: One thing. According to their Common Data Sets, another thing US universities look at is volunteering. If you haven't, I highly highly recommend trying to get some volunteer work on your resume.
Thanks for this. So, volunteering would help. Is there a massive surplus of MUN/econ people applying? As you mentioned, my plan is to tie together my interests in economics, education and entrepreneurship to highlight leadership and passion etc. What can I do with my planned activities to stand out. Would hosting an MUN conference work?
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oppiwall
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Model UN is a pretty standard super curric,so not really likely to stand out.
The non profit sounds more interesting,you say you are head of it,did you found it?,if so ,then that might be something that is a bit stronger but Im aware of a fair number of applicants that have done something similar.but it will certainly stand out more than model UN.
For debate to be strong then Id be looking for national level competition success as a minimum
Fencing,if a high enough standard is niche enough
My school sends to all on your list on a yearly basis and you wouldnt with that resume be considered a top candidate,you may need to consider one level down.
good luck
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ry7xsfa
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(Original post by oppiwall)
Model UN is a pretty standard super curric,so not really likely to stand out.
The non profit sounds more interesting,you say you are head of it,did you found it?,if so ,then that might be something that is a bit stronger but Im aware of a fair number of applicants that have done something similar.but it will certainly stand out more than model UN.
For debate to be strong then Id be looking for national level competition success as a minimum
Fencing,if a high enough standard is niche enough
My school sends to all on your list on a yearly basis and you wouldnt with that resume be considered a top candidate,you may need to consider one level down.
good luck
I agree with all of your statements on the activities individually, however something worth noting is that just because your school sends people do to this on a yearly basis, it doesn't mean OP's school does. A big thing with the US isn't just having the great ECs. They'll also look to see that you've taken advantage of the opportunities you've had.

I'm having a bit of a moment right now in that I can't think of any examples, but this was reiterated multiple times when I was speaking to admissions officers prior to applying.
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oppiwall
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Absolutely,dont disagree with you,i dont know what opportunities hes had but from his list ,Id guess hes not at an underperforming secondary modern in Hull,if he is..then he has a fantastic chance,if on the other hand hes at a pretty good private school..then not so much..
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MH50
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(Original post by oppiwall)
Absolutely,dont disagree with you,i dont know what opportunities hes had but from his list ,Id guess hes not at an underperforming secondary modern in Hull,if he is..then he has a fantastic chance,if on the other hand hes at a pretty good private school..then not so much..
TBH, I won't get any bonus based on school: it sends around 30 percent to Oxbridge and the Ivy League. Yale is very popular, sending about 5 percent every year. However, I am a First gen student, how will that help?
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kamara41
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(Original post by oppiwall)
Model UN is a pretty standard super curric,so not really likely to stand out.
The non profit sounds more interesting,you say you are head of it,did you found it?,if so ,then that might be something that is a bit stronger but Im aware of a fair number of applicants that have done something similar.but it will certainly stand out more than model UN.
For debate to be strong then Id be looking for national level competition success as a minimum
Fencing,if a high enough standard is niche enough
My school sends to all on your list on a yearly basis and you wouldnt with that resume be considered a top candidate,you may need to consider one level down.
good luck
oppiwall It's not about being niche, it's about being successful at 'your thing', whatever that may be.

Take two applicants who have music ECs: one has played the esraj for the past year for about an hour a week; the other plays the violin, dedicates several hours a week to the violin, plays the violin in the national youth orchestra, and gives violin lessons to kids. If I'm a college and I have to pick one of the two applicants, I'd take the violin player every single time, even if I have 200 violin players and no esraj players, I'm taking the violin player every time because they've shown more commitment, more dedication, more passion, more leadership (through taking initiative), and most importantly, more achievement.
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kamara41
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(Original post by MH50)
TBH, I won't get any bonus based on school: it sends around 30 percent to Oxbridge and the Ivy League. Yale is very popular, sending about 5 percent every year. However, I am a First gen student, how will that help?
Being first-gen is a hook, yes. A small hook, but it will give you a slight boost, yes.
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oppiwall
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Thats not what i said,the applicant stated his fencing was possibly/probably going to be at varsity level,so a niche sport at a good level,,
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oppiwall
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Thanks to you I now know what an esraji is though...
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(Original post by oppiwall)
Thats not what i said,the applicant stated his fencing was possibly/probably going to be at varsity level,so a niche sport at a good level,,
Based on my interests, what else can I do to stand out?
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What GCSEs would be Good for HPYSM etc?
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oppiwall
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Well ,the first thing to do is..you should talk to your US uni adviser at school,im presuming that you have one? Do one or two things very well,they arent looking for rounded individuals,they are looking for spikes,or excellence in one or two areas ,in many ways it doesnt matter what those areas are..
Im not going to give my personal details as they are fairly rare and as ive said where i go to school i dont want to out myself but Im going deep in two areas..
External essays are always worth doing,theres plenty of them out there,some people massively overestimate the importance of them,they certainly arent a golden ticket but they cant do any harm.
Regarding fencing-bit of a scandal at Harvard at the moment regarding bribes..but i would certainly contact the coaches at the unis you are interested in,but this is the sort of stuff you should be discussing with your US uni adviser at school.
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(Original post by oppiwall)
Well ,the first thing to do is..you should talk to your US uni adviser at school,im presuming that you have one? Do one or two things very well,they arent looking for rounded individuals,they are looking for spikes,or excellence in one or two areas ,in many ways it doesnt matter what those areas are..
Im not going to give my personal details as they are fairly rare and as ive said where i go to school i dont want to out myself but Im going deep in two areas..
External essays are always worth doing,theres plenty of them out there,some people massively overestimate the importance of them,they certainly arent a golden ticket but they cant do any harm.
Regarding fencing-bit of a scandal at Harvard at the moment regarding bribes..but i would certainly contact the coaches at the unis you are interested in,but this is the sort of stuff you should be discussing with your US uni adviser at school.
Thank you, I could get in touch with the US uni adviser. I will make sure to do plenty of external essays.
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oppiwall
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Do you mean grades or subjects?
If you mean grades-I dont know anybody applying with less than a clean sweep of 8s and 9s,many have a clean sweep of 11 or so at 9,but im sure there will be people applying from less selective academic schools with with less good grades.Grades are only one part of the picture,its far more holistic than over here.
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