To save you time from rattling through all your accomplishments in a long,
dull prose piece, both scholarships ask you to list your activities and honors,
the Rhodes on a separate document and the Marshall in answer to certain on-line application questions. Here are a few suggestions:
- The selectors are not from
Reed. Do not use acronyms, names and phrases that are not in use
beyond Reed's boundaries. Where possible, give details and the
impact you made. A president of an organization of five is not as
important as a president of an organization of five hundred, and so the
selectors need full information.
- I might here suggest
hanging indentations, the "hanging" line being the name of the
activity, organization, etc. and the "indentation" being the
- If the lists are
getting long, consider grouping your activities under subheads. Subheads could include the
following: Honors, awards, prizes and scholarships; Research
experience; Volunteer services and advocacy work; Extracurricular and
community activities; Athletic distinctions; Foreign study.
- These lists are important to
demonstrate your well-rounded nature in both academics and other
interests. When you write your "story," you may be
focusing on a few activities and experiences that hang together as a
cohesive narrative. Even if that story seems focused on depth, that is no
problem in itself because these lists should offer balance in terms of breadth.
- In demonstrating your
leadership capabilities, mere membership lists are pointless. The
selectors will want to witness a sense of progress over a period of time
-- the impact you yourself made, the outreach for which you were
responsible. Even if you founded an organization, the selectors will
want to know numbers, impact and whether the organization continued after
- Rather than having a
hodgepodge list of lots of memberships, fewer more meaningful activities
which show sustained commitment (at least two years) are much more attractive.
- Do not devote too much space to your pre-college life unless you have one or two major achievements you think will help fill out the portrait of you. (The Mitchell explicitly does not want any high school activities or awards listed.) Conversely, a sudden influx of activities
in the junior year is rather obvious.
- Be scrupulously honest.
If you list an ability to speak German, you might very well be asked in
interview to translate and explain "Dass wir aufhören zu existieren, wenn ihr
aufhört, an uns zu denken." If you claim to play cricket, you
might be asked what a "square leg" is. If you imply you can sing opera, get ready to belt out a classic.
Back to Rhodes &
"Writing your story"