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Angie and her little brothers

You’re busy. Often from 7 am until long after the sun goes down, you’re buzzing around your high school and community, and as admissions officers, we want to acknowledge your packed schedule. We know you’re not just studying, and everyone spends their time outside the classroom a little differently. This is why as a part of the college application, we ask you to submit a list of extracurriculars. This list shows us what you care about, what gets you excited, and where you’ve picked up skills will serve your post-high school journey. Most extracurriculars are pretty straightforward to identify — they might have a clear name or may be something you’ve heard others talking about putting on their college apps. We read about a wide range of extracurriculars, from performing in the fall musical and volunteering at the local food bank, to scoring goals on the varsity soccer team and interning at the wildlife rehabilitation center. However, if you are anything like I was in high school, you may not realize that family responsibilities are a pretty significant extracurricular. 

Growing up, my biggest responsibility in my household was helping my parents with my two younger brothers. There was a sizeable age gap between us, and from the time I turned 16 and got my driver’s license, I became a 3rd third parent of sorts.  I would drive them to school, pick them up from soccer practice, go grocery shopping, etc. While I loved taking care of them, I always worried about how much it ate up my extra time. I felt like I wasn’t doing something productive, or that it wasn’t something that colleges would value. While I recognized my brothers were an important part of my development into who I am today, when I applied to college, they were nowhere to be found among my list of extracurriculars, the time I spent with them was nowhere to be found. 

 

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Angie and her brothers
Picking up my brothers from school when I was a senior -- they're so little!

Now that I’m on the other side of the application“submit” button, - I realize the value it would have had to include the time I spent with my brothers on my application. It would have let my admissions officer know that much more about me, and what I valued. It would have shown I can make a mean rice and beans when my parents had to be at work. It would have shown that that I knew how to handle my classes, my clubs, my jobs, along with my family. It would have added another layer to my application. 

Whether you’ are caring for your siblings, helping an ailing grandparent, working a part time job to support your family, - I encourage you to let us know. There can be depth in family responsibilities that deserves to be recognized. It shows leadership and commitment — and it can reflect the importance of family in your life.