Updated: Dec 29, 2020
“Choose your activities because they delight, intrigue, and challenge you, not because you think they’ll look impressive on your application.” — MIT Admissions
“In fact, an exceptional depth of experience in one or two activities may demonstrate your passion more than minimal participation in five or six clubs.” — Stanford Admissions
“Our advice is to pursue what you love and tell us about that. Be yourself.” — Yale Admissions
Look, I could go on. I don’t think I’ve read a single admissions blog (or watched a Disney movie) without this same message: Do what you love.
At MIT, I’ve met people with all kinds of hobbies — some common, some completely niche. You can find examples in the Splash directory: MIT students teaching high schoolers about black holes, crocheting, topology as it relates to crocheting, the history and facets of crossword puzzles, how to bake bao buns. Think about it: what class would you like to take? To teach?
A lot of people have their own serendipitous stories of how they made their way to their extracurricular interests. I spent my weekends selling produce at the farmers market in high school because, one rainy day, a Spanish-speaking vendor needed help setting up, and I happened to be taking Spanish 2 that semester.
However, you can always be purposeful about how you spend your time. If you don’t already have any plans for this winter break, find something to nourish your mind/hands/heart! Whether it’s unheard of, completely popular, or somewhere in between, as long as you can see yourself loving it. The more passion you have for your activities, the more impressive the activities list on your college applications.
Here are some inspirations for hobbies. (Heads up: there are a lot of them.) You can even make up your own hobby by delving into a Wikipedia binge, or stumbling upon an old, mysterious site on the Wayback Machine! Hobbies don’t have to be purely physical, mental, or emotional. Sometimes it’s as simple as doodling in your notes and experimenting with the flavors of tea and spices.
Write down whatever catches your eye, whatever ideas come to mind, and pursue it for the sake of answering your inner child’s “Why?” and “More!”
“But above all, in order to be, never try to seem.”
— Albert Camus, Notebooks
Oomi Pammit is the STEM Specialist at College Torch. She tutors students in STEM subjects including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and more. Please contact her with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (626) 214-8658.