Journalists can teach you a lot about college applications.
Good journalists start their stories with a strong “lead”—one sentence that sums up the most important information in the story. Every sentence after the lead is less vital to the story than the one before it. So information is presented in decreasing order of importance.
That means that an impatient reader could read just the first sentence and still know the most essential information. And that’s exactly how you should approach lists of activities, honors and awards on your college application.
When our students at Collegewise list activities, honors or awards, we advise them to start by listing the one item they would select if they could only share one piece of information. Then they select the second item they’d share if they were allotted two tidbits, etc. If they eventually run out of space, they don’t have to worry because they’ve already shared the most important information, starting with the lead.
College admissions officers are tired during admissions season. Make their job easier—and make yourself stand out—by taking a cue from journalists. Start with the lead, and continue in decreasing order of importance.