Over the past few weeks, I have edited over 100 honors lists for my Application Nation - Class of 2022 students.
My approach in what to list, how to do it, and what order to put honors in is very similar to the way I compile an activities list: lead with your most meaningful, distinctive (to you!), and relevant honors first. I could write an entire chapter in a new book devoted to the honors list.
There is so much advice and nuance I could share, but here are the most important tips to keep in mind as you decide how to fill in this section of your application:
1. You actually don't need any honors to get into college.
2. Underclassmen, start an honors list now!
3. Don't overlook the more common honors that many students achieve.
4. Honor societies can be listed individually if you have room or bundled together in one line.
5. Many strong test-takers will list National Merit Semifinalist or National Merit Commended Scholar.
RELATED READING: How to Report Your Test Scores the Right Way
6. AP scores are tricky to list!
7. Avoid abbreviations if you can.
8. National or international awards are not always better than school or state/regional awards.
9. Honors that provide evidence to back up what you want to study should be front and center.
RELATED READING: Majors! Will Applying Undeclared Hurt You?
10. You only have five lines, each totaling 100 characters each, for the honors section on the Common Application.
The honors list is a small section of the application, however, it can be mighty. Believe it or not, it can hint at your major choice, Soundbite, and values. Make sure you don't sell yourself short. Celebrate those academic achievements in a clear way because admissions officers aren't mind readers. They "read" this section of the application in a matter of seconds, so you want it to be as powerful as it can be.