Why You Should Have a “Brag Sheet” (and How to Start One Now)

21 Jan 2019

Seemingly every college application and scholarship application is going to ask for a list of your activities and involvement. Read on to learn why you should carefully choose your activities and how to create an activities “brag sheet” that captures just how unique you truly are.

Not Just Well-Rounded – Why You Should Think Carefully About Your Activities

While you may not know exactly what you want to do in the future, you probably have a good idea of a job you dream about or a field you’re passionate about. Your career at 25-years-old seems far off, but you can start pursuing that dream job now while you’re still in high school.

See, the goal of a college application is not just to tell the admissions officers about your hopes and dreams for the future. They want to see that you have ALREADY started on your journey. Then they want you to explain to them how their university is necessary to start the next chapter in the story you are already telling.

This type of story-telling application is much more impressive than just being the “well-rounded” student type that everyone thought (and still thinks) that colleges look for. If you’re joining activities “because it looks good on college applications” you might want to rethink your strategy.

Trust me, this is not the story you want to tell.

Think of a college class like a giant puzzle, and each student is their own little puzzle piece. Admissions officers are looking to find students that fit together well (because each one is well defined and distinct from the rest) in order to make a complete picture. If every student had exactly the same list of random activities, that would be a very boring picture. Schools need variety, so, all clichés aside, it’s never been more important to “be yourself.” Show them where your passions and interests are.

Brainstorming Activities

The key is to figure out what kinds of activities you can get involved in while you’re in high school to carve out your little puzzle piece. Every hero has their own mission, and every gladiator has their specialty weapon. So what are yours?

Grab a pen and paper, and let’s brainstorm some activities for you to pursue during however many years of high school you have left.

If you’re just starting out as a freshman, feel free to try out activities in any field that could possibly interest you. Let your imagination run wild. If you’re an upperclassman already, maybe just focus on expanding on the activities you’ve already been focusing on.

Here are some things to consider as you make this list:

  • The activities you think “don’t count” – the little things that you do every day, like playing video games or taking care of siblings – are actually extremely important in defining who you are, so don’t discard those as irrelevant. Maybe taking care of your siblings has helped you realize that you want to study child development or public childcare policy, and maybe playing video games has inspired you to study video game science. (Yes, that exists.)
  • Look at the values, strengths, and passions that you listed if you need some help coming up with ideas. Doing something outside of school that is your own idea or creation based on your values and passions will be much more fulfilling, more impressive, and more constructive for the creation of your future career than just showing up to a weekly or monthly school club so you can put the name on the list.
  • You should also be thinking of ways to supplement and expand on the activities that you’re already participating in. Look into different camps, contests, extra classes, volunteer opportunities, and tutoring positions in relation to a few of the activities you care most about. For those interested in STEM, join the Intel Science Competition. If your interested in art, volunteer are your local art museum, such as Bakersfield Museum of Art. Do some research. There’s something out there for everyone.
  • Think outside the box! Don’t limit yourself to conventional activities. If your lifelong dream is to become a chef at a major restaurant, then start your own cooking show on Youtube or Snapchat! The possibilities are endless.
  • Don’t let your summers go to waste! There is so much time available to explore new things and go to new places. Build talents that you wouldn’t have time for during the school year. Write that book you’ve been thinking about for three years. (Need some ideas? Check out 21 Better Ways to Spend Your Summer than Watching Netflix.) Also, if you need help funding any of your summer activities, there are lots of organizations that would be thrilled to help you in your educational journey such as your local chapters of Rotary, Kiwanis, or Chamber of Commerce. Or you can launch a kickstarter campaign and get friends and family to donate.

With your brainstorming done, start doing some research. Then write down everything you actually intend to do, in order, with a plan of how you are going to make those things happen.

Think of this as your training plan for the next few years. These are the smaller arenas in which you hone your skills to prepare you for the big leagues.

The Brag Sheet

If you’re already a junior or senior, you should get started right away on what I’m called a “Brag Sheet.” It’s where you list all of your best activities and awards in a way that honestly presents who you are and how you spend your time to admissions officers. Here’s an example.

No matter where you are in high school, this brag sheet is a key part of your application, so don’t treat it lightly.

If you keep updating this as you go through high school, filling out college applications, brainstorming your essays, and applying to scholarships will be a snap.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: