Basic information? Easy. Check.
Transcript? Ask the guidance counselor.
Application essay? Begrudgingly checked after much writer’s block, procrastination and a little nagging on your part.
Standardized test scores? Study, study, study – take test.
Extracurricular and volunteer activities? “Mom, Dad – can you remember what I did after school second semester sophomore year? Which year did I win second place in the Regional Vocal Contest?” There is a lot of information that’s required for the college application, and extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities often get lost in the hustle and bustle of years’ past. So how can you ensure that all of the experiences that make your child a well-rounded applicant make it onto the application? You create a “brag sheet.” You may be asking, “What is a brag sheet?” A brag sheet is essentially a list of all of the things your child has accomplished or contributed to or taken part in during their high school (and sometimes middle) school career. Here are items you should include on the brag sheet:
- All extracurricular activities – sports, clubs and even lessons.
- Volunteer experiences – school-sponsored, independent projects or church-related, like mission trips.
- Accomplishments, awards and accolades.
- Work experiences – paid or unpaid.
- Anything else your child has completed outside of the classroom.
Make a habit of sitting down with your teen after the end of each semester and think back through everything they were involved in after school. Include anything and everything on the brag sheet. This does not need to look professional – it’s just a reference point for you and your child to walk through during the college application process. It should, however, be separated by school year and it may be beneficial to include notes about each experience to help jog your memory later. These experiences could formulate the blueprint for the college essay or come up in an admissions interview. When it comes time to use the brag sheet, filter the list down to the most impressive, most involved activities or opportunities. Admissions officers have stacks and stacks of applications to read. If you include a long list of every breath your baby took in high school, they won’t read it. If your child was in band all four years, definitely include their experience as well as awards and achievements on the application. Did they take a memorable, life-changing missions trip? Admissions officers love reading about those. And nothing is “too boring.” Those summer jobs spent at the pool or day care center show motivation, commitment and drive. Showcase what deserves to be showcased, and leave the rest in your child’s memory box. Keeping a brag sheet now means less headache later as you collectively work together to remember every detail from your child’s four-year high school career. And it’s never too late in the game to start. Just start the brag sheet and add to it as you and your child think of activities, accomplishments and awards to add!