Common high school activities: Don’t talk solely about participation in them.

This is an important tip that you’ll rarely hear, but it’s true. Common, high school activities are not going to set your essay apart from the competition. The Internet has opened scholarship opportunities up to thousands of applicants who wouldn’t have been there 10 years ago. And that means the less unique your essay is, the more likely it is that you’ll be passed over for the scholarship. So four years of high school activities – science club, soccer team, dance team, school play and varsity band – are going to end up as a blur to the committee. They see literally hundreds of essays come in with that same stuff in them every single day. Not even a scroll of AP classes and high SAT scores are going to set you significantly apart from your competitors.

So, are you a slacker for doing the things that high-achievers around the world do? Of course not. I’m just telling you straight out that listing your participation in the clubs and sports and activities found in most high schools across the country is probably not going to be good enough to make you stand out. You’ll have to dig for something deeper, better, more unique.

How, you say? Keep reading.

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