College Admissions: Your Activities Resume

Believe it or not, an Activities Resume can play a key role in your admissions portfolio.  If it is well written and has meaningful content, your resume will enable admissions officers to determine who you really are, and will help distinguish you from other applicants with similar academic accomplishments.  An Activities Resume can highlight your sense of responsibility and leadership skills.  Ideally, it will let an admissions officer know just what you can contribute to the institution as a whole.  Admissions officers are not just looking for undergraduates who can fare well in coursework.  They’re on the look out for their next distinguished alumnae!

Start Early

Creating a draft resume will help you to think about your strengths and your interests.  This is a good way to focus your direction when you’re a young high schooler.  It’s also an excellent way to reflect on your achievements and identify some topics for your admissions essays.

The Best Resumes Will

Convey constancy and (ideally) increasing involvement.

Be short (one page), succinct and clear.  Use common terms to refer to clubs.  ‘Literacy magazine’ is easier than ‘Pegasus’ for an admissions officer to quickly recognize.

List your most important activities first.  List according to activity, not grade, or year of participation.  This format is easier for admissions officers to follow.

Include your name and relevant identifying information at the top of the page.

Do NOT Include

  • Your GPA – it will be on your transcript.
  • Your standardized test scores – these will be reported separately.
  • Any courses that will appear on your transcript (even if you did ace AP Physics)

DO Include

  • Any honors or awards you have received since the 9th grade.
  • Participation in any competition at the state, national or international level.
  • Summer activities: camps, jobs, courses, travel, community service, volunteer work
  • Extra classes you have taken that do not appear on your transcript (arts coursework, local college courses, weekend or after school language programs, music lessons)
  • If you have done well in these classes and you have a transcript or report, definitely include it.  If you do not have the transcript, at least include the course names and associated grade.

For Best Results – Share

Plan to give a copy of your activities resume to anyone you have asked to write a letter of recommendation.  Your resume will give them a better understanding of who you are.  It will enable anyone who writes about you to write a more personal letter and it may even make it easier for them to write it.

Get Started Now

So, take some time now and start your own Activities Resume.  It’s just one piece of the admissions puzzle but it’s an important one and it should be an easy one for you to own.

Hello students and families!

My name is Whitney Purcell, and I’m the director for Summerfuel CAP Columbia this year. I started working with Summerfuel Oxford in 2006, then moved to Summerfuel UMass-Amherst from 2007 forward, and I am very excited to make this summer at Columbia University a memorable experience for all of our students!

We are fortunate to have a strong staff of faculty, college counselors, and resident advisors to create an excellent all-around experience for students as you prepare for the college admissions process, study hard and challenge yourselves academically, tour multiple university campuses, and make friends and memories you’ll never forget. We’ll feature some profiles of our staff in upcoming blog posts, so be sure to stay tuned!

As we prepare for your arrival to campus, we want to make sure that we have all of your travel information to make your first day smooth and welcoming. I’ll be sending out emails to everyone in order to confirm travel plans, but in the meantime, please make sure to log onto the MySummerfuel database and upload any documents that may still be missing. You can also review the Packing List, Travel Information, and CAP Columbia Handbook that are provided for you to make sure you’re ready to roll!

Finally, if you have any questions or concerns before the program begins, please feel free to send me an email at

I can’t wait to meet everyone in a couple of weeks to kick off our program – and remember, it’s never too early to start packing, haha… Let the countdown begin!

Whitney Purcell


Guest Blogger: ASA CAP Columbia Student Abbey Robbins

“This experience has been so much more than I had expected. First off, the SAT finally makes sense, and I feel confident in my abilities in that test but also in my college application- thanks to the awesome college counselors. But secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I have found the international community to be really rewarding. It’s really a unique experience to find someone from halfway around the world, whose first language was not English, and have so much in common with them. I have a much deeper understanding of the international community because I’ve had the opportunity to communicate with them and learn about all their different cultures. With all our cultural differences, it’s really quite amazing how similar we all are; and that kind of perspective at my age is phenomenal.

The course load is heavy, and in the beginning I was afraid I would have no time for fun. But everyone sort of bonded over the studies, and we all got very close quickly because of it. And there is plenty of time for fun- exploring the city and having fun adventures that (at least I) would never get at my small town home.

Living on a college campus is part of what makes this so real- having to balance studies with fun and having to navigate across a new campus- it’s really unique for a high school student and revealing to what will come in the near future. Overall, it has been a very rewarding, exciting experience so far and it has helped me to understand a lot about the international community and also the type of school I will want to attend.”


*Photo Credit: Freddie Moross (Abbey is on the right, and chose this photo 😉

Fordham, Yale and Birthday Celebrations

A day in the life at CAP Columbia….

We got an early start to the day with our visit to Fordham University. We enjoyed the campus’s lush greenery and enormous library. The campus was so quiet it was hard to believe it was in the middle of the Bronx.

Immediately following our Fordham visit, we headed up to Yale University for a tour with our enthusiastic guide Claire. She was full of helpful information about everything from student life to school traditions to academic programs. Students even had time to rub the foot of the lucky statue of Theodore Dwight Woolsey for good luck (which will hopefully come in handy for college applications). In addition to the breathtaking campus, students enjoyed walking through the city of New Haven to see the many things it has to offer.

Although we had a long day, we ended it with a bang as students gathered for the ice cream social. We got to know each other even better as we played a game of human bingo. As the game ended, we brought in surprise birthday cupcakes for Minh and RA Amanda. We ended the night with some music, dancing, and lots of laughs.


Relief from the Heat

Looking to expand your vocabulary…well ask our scholars for some suggestions. Our students memorized SAT words or faced the consequences…water balloons and squirt guns. It provided a great way to learn and stay cool. Jorick and Freddie were the water gun champions as they ensured no one was left dry.

After the water fight, students sat outside for an intense game of Hit or Miss. We split into groups for some team building! We had lots of laughs as we heard some interesting excuses for being late to work and ideas for things you sit on. We even had students creating categories of their own including “Things that remind you of France” and “How I Met Your Mother References.” We ended the game just in time to avoid the thunderstorm!

Just Getting Started at CAP Columbia

This morning students dove right into the SATs as they began with the diagnostic test. After surviving a true test of endurance on their first morning, summerfuelers had time to relax as outdoor activities commenced. Students found ultimate Frisbee and baseball both relaxing and good physical activity on the beautiful Columbia campus greens (after all, grass in New York City is hard to come by).

Baseball was really fun…until Freddie hit a home run, and the ball was never found.

Classes weren’t finished yet as students were introduced to their writing teachers where they started to learn how to formulate and compose stellar college essays. Some of the skills students learned and applied were creating a personal resume, evaluating colleges, and choosing essay topics.

From speed-friending introduction games to hanging out and working together until curfew, students have already started to form friendships and spend time with one another.

In between the busy schedule, the RAs and students gathered for an interactive game of Taboo. The game got quite competitive, but we had to put it on hold as students headed off to their college workshop right after we were flashmobbed by a group of young children.

Welcome to Columbia

Move-in day started bright and early with the first student’s plane touching down at 5:30 AM. From then on welcome day was in full swing with summerfuel campers arriving from across the world. Whether an hour of driving or twenty hours of air travel and jetlag, everybody gathered strength and brought their luggage into their new rooms in the East Campus of beautiful Columbia University.

From the start, students spent time getting to know the rest of their roommates whom they would be living with for the next two weeks. The day was humid, but things started warming up when the program officially commenced at 6:00 PM with students touring the campus and meeting their college counselors and RAs.

After a pizza party to start things off, the RAs broke the ice with a name game, and the college counselors followed up with a conversation on the dos and don’ts of applying to college. With much to do and a full day ahead, camp called it a night and prepared for the 7 AM wake up call for the 1st SAT diagnostic test in the morning.

Explore NYC

Despite the heat wave, the group was determined to see more of New York, especially after sitting through their second SAT practice test in the morning. We hopped on the subway for a day of exploration. Our first stop was shopping in Soho, with everything from art stands to boutiques. We all ended in Union Square to see Fuerza Bruta. For those who have not seen it, the convoluted* show uses strobe lights, fog, mist, water, and music to create a truly amazing and unique experience. The students had an incredibly fun time dancing and interacting with the show. Many left the theater dripping with water, which was the perfect ending to a hot day. After the show, we indulged in a delicious Thai meal at Spice where we sat down to good food, good company, and good synergy*. Although we came back exhausted, everyone enjoyed getting to know New York and each other much better.