Activity/Work Experience Short Answer

Essay Prompt

Please briefly elaborate on an extracurricular activity or work experience of particular significance to you. (150 words or less)

Sample Essay

Below are 10 samples of responses to the activity/work experience short answer question. They touch on the most common types of activities and work experiences and should give you a great starting point for your own answer. The editorial comments focus on how these short answers communicate the core four -- passion, talent, initiative, and impact -- the qualities that admissions officers are looking for.

The Arts - Drawing

I have my "Set of 12" soft graphite pencils, my paper and, of course, my ruler and calculator that I'll need to calculate the ratios of the face. Let's start off with the eyes, the "windows to the soul". Now remember: play with the light and the contrast if you want to make the drawing look as realistic as possible. Is this wrinkle dark enough? Did I even eat lunch today? I like what's emerging; shades of black and white, no camouflage, just the world as it really is... at least through my eyes. After all, "beauty is in the truth" and if I get her eyes just right, the picture's true beauty will be revealed. Has it been 4 hours already? I guess I'll have to finish it up tomorrow. (131 words)

The Arts - Music

Performing as a soloist is exciting for everyone, but I discovered that performing in a group can be just as compelling. As a member of two orchestras and two wind ensembles, I have relished the experience of mastering my part at home, blending in rehearsals and performing on stage. Since I arrive at rehearsal prepared, I can focus on coordinating, balancing and blending my sound in order to bring to light the composer’s complete intentions and thereby learn the significance of the music. Taken together, the daily rehearsals constitute a journey from sight-reading a piece to refining it until it’s ready to perform. Ultimately, my urgent joy of playing on stage stems from my enthusiasm for sharing the hard work of many rehearsals and inspiring the audience by bringing to life the composer’s vision. (134 words)

Clubs - Science Club

When I was 9, I got my first taste of science through a club at school. By the age of 16, I wanted to inspire others the way I was inspired, so I created and launched my very own "Mad Science Club" for students 9 to 11 years old. I designed each session to include a core lesson and a "hands-on" experience, to instill in my students a love for science as big as mine. Once I saw how excited the students were, staying after school, building something new or testing a theory, and showing off their experiments to classmates, I knew I had inspired them in some way and I couldn't help but feel proud. I'm proud that I was able to give these students that little spark, that inspiration and passion, which I believe will be vital to them in developing and pursuing their dreams. (147 words)

Clubs - Environmental Action Club

When I transferred to my new school, the first club that I joined was the Environmental Action Club. The club focuses on projects that result in a more eco-friendly school and community. That fall, they were embarking on a really interesting clean energy project that could provide the school with solar panels on the roof for free. All we had to do was convince enough local residents and businesses to sign up for a new energy plan that would have some of their electricity supplied by clean energy sources, such as wind or solar. I happily took my turn at "sign-up stations" we set up in the community and by the end of the project, the school had its solar panels – saving the school $2,400 on electricity each year and making our community more environmentally responsible. I was proud to have been a part of it. (146 words)

Community Service

I suppose I was asked to teach Sittercise because I am an athlete. But I didn't really have to call on much athletic ability because Sittercise isn’t a particularly challenging form of exercise – at least not if you are an able-bodied young person as I am. But for the elderly residents of the Senior Home, most of whom are wheel chair bound, Sittercise was tough. Every time I led them through a Sittercise routine that required them to move their arms and legs up and down to the rhythm of the music, I would see seniors in the group struggling. They obviously needed my encouragement far more than they needed my athletic prowess, so that is what I offered. In return, they did their best and they made me realize that there is much for me to achieve while I am still able to walk with my own legs. (149 words)

Community Service

Thursdays are my favorite day of the week. I spend an hour at Local Elementary School working with SchoolToGo, a local nonprofit that provides one-on-one academic help to homeless children in my town. Each week I tutor Crystal, a fourth-grade girl who is a part of my town's substantial Somali refugee population. We work together on her math homework, read chapter books out loud to each other, answer a weekly writing prompt, and create art. Crystal's enthusiasm, quick wit, and optimism never fail to cheer me up and inspire me. She always has a funny story to tell me and a new gymnastics move to show me. I know that Crystal will succeed in school and in life, and I hope that I have helped her get closer to this goal. I will miss Thursdays with Crystal next year. (139 words)

Sports - Crew

In the moment before the race starts, time hangs suspended. My throat predictably and inevitably jumps into my mouth, but somehow I muster "Get ready, girls," with a semblance of the confidence expected of the cox. The buzzer sounds; the boat lurches forward. "Three-quarters!" jumps off my tongue. My fingers shake on the strings as I steer, my mind screaming, "Please don't crash…" Meanwhile, I passionately shout commands in the voice of an impervious drill sergeant. I barely recognize this voice, yet it is mine. And finding my “cox” voice has made me a stronger and more confident individual. I have become more willing to stand up for my beliefs, and more adamant in my convictions off the water. It is a confidence that comes from knowing that whether our boat has a blowout lead or a humiliating, almost-funny-if-it-wasn't-us projected loss, I will be heard. (145 words)

Sports - Skiing

At the age of three, I was buckled into skies and pushed down the bunny trail at my second home, Big Mountain. Luckily, it was meant to be, the mountain and me. I conquered the bunny trail and moved on. The minute I gained the courage to take that ever-so-scary double-black diamond trail, I knew that skiing and I would never be separated again. I’ve had my share of victories, including being a top ten racer, but that’s not what makes skiing my sport. It is the joy I feel standing at the peak of a trail. It is the one place I can forget about the rest of the world, and feel certain enough to handle any terrain that stands before me. With deliberate and sturdy turns, I make my way down the mountain. I know nothing can stop me and no obstacle is too much for me. (149 words)

Work - Internship

I can't think of anything more humbling than getting a couple of doors slammed in your face. Try a few hundred. Welcome to my world as an intern with the Democratic Party of Ohio. On my first day, I was given a bottle of water, shown to a table with a phone, and presented with a list of 80 residences that needed to be called within the hour. That's when the learning really started. Now a veteran of both the phone bank and door-to-door canvassing, I know that the reason I make the next call or knock on the next door is because I might encounter that special someone, the one out of hundreds who is excited to talk with me about the issues. For that person, I can endure anything. Still, it would be nice to get through one day without a door slammed in my face. (148 words)

Work - Part-Time Job

Working part-time as a hostess at the Nice Local Restaurant is my first real job. It doesn't always require the most intellect and it isn't always exciting, but I've learned things I wouldn’t learn anywhere else. I've learned how to manage working 4p-10p the night before a test, how to be assertive but polite to a rude patron, and even how to deal with tax forms. But as important as these life skills are, more important is what I’ve learned from working alongside the other employees. For me, this job affords me the extras; for the others, their jobs provide the essentials. I am humbled by how blessed I've been to grow up with opportunities and support. I would like to think of myself as having always been grateful, never acting entitled; but I am realizing that I didn't fully understand humility until I got my first real job. (149 words)

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