Writing Tips: Non-Academic Activities and Employment History

We recently saw a post on Pre-Med 101 that asked about omitting common punctuation in order to increase word count in the Non-Academic Activities section. The sample provided by the inquirer read something like this: “students&helped” instead of “students and helped.” We respectfully ask that you do not write your Non-Academic Activities and Employment History sections that way. Omitting punctuation significantly reduces the readability of your application. To demonstrate, ifwewroteourbloglikethis, you would have a hard time understanding it. The same rule applies to the Non-Academic and Employment History sections. Also, texting language is not ubiquitous, therefore we recommend against abbreviating your words. Or, you may use AYOR. TY! While we will certainly evaluate your application as best as possible, writing in this manner exhausts evaluators, and makes comprehension more challenging. If necessary, you can use a sparingly placed symbol. However, we would encourage you to spend the time phrasing your entries so that you capture the essence of your role and your primary duties and responsibilities without resorting to such tactics. If necessary, you may use action based sentence fragments like, “Led student group of 50 members,” or “Played board games with seniors.” End each phrase in a period to indicate that the thought or action has concluded.

While we do not deduct points for poorly constructed entries, it is in your best interest to ensure that your application is readable, uses appropriate English grammar, is accurate, and effectively conveys the information and tone you want the Admissions Selection Committee to see. This aspect of the admissions process lets us catch a glimpse of who you are on paper. What do you want us to see? What judgments do you want us to make about you? If you are not sure how you come across, have someone who you respect, and can provide an unbiased opinion, read what you wrote and provide you feedback. We will not be able to do this for you. If you have already submitted your application and included entries written in the manner above, there is nothing that can be done at this point. If you used a few small symbol replacements, please do not worry about it. We will contact you if we have any questions.

Happy writing!

2 responses to “Writing Tips: Non-Academic Activities and Employment History”

  1. Jeffrey

    Just to clarify, would it be okay to use “&” instead of “and” or should this also be used sparingly.

    For example: “I worked with youth & elders in a recreation centre.”

    Please let me know, thanks!

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