History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Anything that's on topic but doesn't fit elsewhere, including related events that might be of interest to quizbowl players (KMO, Science Bowl, etc).
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johntait1
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History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by johntait1 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:35 pm

HI everyone,
I was wondering how people put History Bowl or quizbowl on their college applications. I'll be applying to college this autumn and I really want to emphasize this aspect since I've invested an enormous amount of time into these two activities. I'll probably write essays about them, but should I leave them under extracurriculars since I'm History Bowl President at our school and run everything? Or should I put our competition results under awards/honors and emphasize the club and community aspect under extracurriculars? Also, should I send in past videos/internet article links to show that its a legitimate activity that many people put a lot of time into with very stiff competition; not just something I did because it looks good on a college application?
For past applicants-how did you put these activities on your application? For future applicants-How do you plan to putting these activities on your application?
Thanks for any help!
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by wcheng » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:32 pm

Personally I listed quiz bowl in several sections of my resume, since it was by far my most time-consuming extracurricular in high school. In my extracurricular section, I listed the various officer positions I had in my club, and described my various duties and responsibilities like teaching people how to study and volunteering as a reader at JV tournaments as well as the various national tournaments I attended. Because I volunteered to set up and moderate practices at our feeder middle school, I also listed that in my community service section. I also listed an honorary resolution that our team received from our county legislature for being the 2nd place JV team in the 2013 NHB in my honors/awards section. Finally, quiz bowl was the subject of my Common Application essay, so yeah, it definitely figured prominently into my college apps. I'd say that it can't hurt to put a variety of different aspects of your quiz bowl experiences onto your app, given how multifaceted quiz bowl can be.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:38 pm

johntait1 wrote:Or should I put our competition results under awards/honors and emphasize the club and community aspect under extracurriculars? Also, should I send in past videos/internet article links to show that its a legitimate activity that many people put a lot of time into with very stiff competition; not just something I did because it looks good on a college application?
I did the first thing. I briefly went over our club's success in the awards section, and then--I'm not sure if this section still exists on the Common App as a separate essay--I talked about the leadership responsibilities and what it taught me.

I didn't do the second thing. I'm not so sure it's necessary; I think if you're passionate enough in your application, the "legitimacy" will come through. It probably wouldn't hurt to quickly explain what it is, though, since most people still don't know how quizbowl works.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by RexSueciae » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:52 pm

johntait1 wrote:I'll probably write essays about them, but should I leave them under extracurriculars since I'm History Bowl President at our school and run everything? Or should I put our competition results under awards/honors and emphasize the club and community aspect under extracurriculars?
Go ahead and list it for both. CommonApp has such annoying character limits for its sections, it's hard enough to list everything you want sometimes.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Theodore » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:14 pm

What people have already outlined is excellent, but this really resonated with me:
wcheng wrote:I'd say that it can't hurt to put a variety of different aspects of your quiz bowl experiences onto your app, given how multifaceted quiz bowl can be.
You play and learn on a personal level, developing a very deep intimate understanding of your skills, knowledge, and how you learn.
You lead your team on a school-wide level.
You compete on a state and national level.

The main argument against Quizbowl from any outsider/person reading your application is that it seems like it's simply mindless rote memorization. You need to disprove this. Explain how Quizbowl is more than one-dimensional by mentioning critical thinking skills in making connections, teamwork, communication skills, and/or any other skills involved other than memorization (not that memorization isn't important).

In addition, Quizbowl is often more than just playing. Leadership and organizational skills/logistics are important since you're team president. Do you write questions? Do you help staff or host tournaments? Do you contribute to your state's Quizbowl organization? Don't overlook the non-playing aspects of the game.

If you're concerned about 'legitimacy', genuinely ask yourself and answer: WHY do you play Quizbowl? There are many good and bad reasons to be involved with any extracurricular. Answering this question will determine whether you have enough passion to write significantly about Quizbowl.

Lastly, a major problem with lesser-known/less-established extracurriculars such as Quizbowl is that people have a harder time seeing the value in Quizbowl. Even if they see the personal value, they less often see the COMMUNITY value. In your application, be sure to emphasize how your time invested in Quizbowl contributes to not only your school community, but the (inter)national high school community.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:28 pm

Daniel,

Speaking as someone who just applied to college last fall and whose application focused heavily on History Bowl and quiz bowl, I'd recommend for you to heavily emphasize those activities in your application. While it's important to list your competition results (I'm sure colleges will be impressed by your achievements) and your leadership positions in your application, what I feel is even more important is to describe what quiz bowl is, why it's important, and how it affected you. Since many people—including admissions officers—don't really know what quiz bowl is, or assume that it's some version of Jeopardy, it's up to you to describe what quiz bowl is, and make sure to present it as the worthwhile and educational activity that it is. Talk about how it rewards learning and how it introduces people to topics they didn't know or are not covered in school. Colleges like applicants who seek knowledge for knowledge's sake and people who can learn things by themselves, so that's a huge hook you have there. You should also describe how the activity affected you as a person—this could be when you won an important competition, when you found that your studying paid off, when you realized that school didn't teach you much at all—anything, really. There's a lot of life lessons to be gleaned from playing, and for someone who's done as much as you and been as successful as you, finding them shouldn't be too much of a problem. There's also a lot of unique qualities about quiz bowl that make it such a good topic to write about—from the all-encompassing nature of the activity to to intense head-to-head competition to the tight-knit community. Finally—be proud of what you've done and what you've spent your time on. You've shown passion and dedication and achievement in something, and colleges look for just those qualities in applicants.

—Bruce

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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:12 am

I don't think any school is going to admit you because of quizbowl, the way that some schools might admit you because you play lacrosse or even because you play the trombone and they need a trombone player for their orchestra. I think this is hugely unfair, but it's the way it is. The only exception might be Liberty University, I bet they would give you a quizbowl scholarship.

But yeah, you can definitely spin quizbowl as something that gave you the kinds of experiences and characteristics that colleges look for in an applicant.

FWIW, I put quizbowl on my college applications and I was rejected to every single college I applied to except one. The one school that admitted me? Noted quizbowl titan the University of Chicago. Coincidence? Almost certainly, but it makes a good joke 10 years later.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by johntait1 » Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:46 am

Thanks for all of the replies everyone; I really do appreciate all of the help. I wrote my commonapp essay about I've really loved the incredible community and experiences I've had at Nationals and not just the competition victories, but I realized that I never explained what quizbowl really is, so thanks for the reminder. Thanks also for the reminder about the community/team portion: I've spent a lot of time over the past year working with our JV team members to try to help them achieve success like my team, and I also spent a lot of time coordinating our tournament that brought new teams in East Tennessee into the activity. Thanks for the reminder about the leadership part, I've invested a lot of time within the club to make sure it's not a total joke like all the others at my school(basically people just go to those because it "looks good on a college app"). Lastly, the part about school not teaching us a lot of important things really resonated with me. One of the reasons I've loved quizbowl and History Bowl is because there is so much missing from our classes about the history, art, culture, etc. of civilizations that I've really enjoyed exploring on my free time. Adding that part is a really good suggestion because right now I've just written that I've spent a lot of time but people are probably wondering what the time has been spent on. Like someone mentioned though, unfortunately, commonapp has those annoying word limits, and I was already over on some of my essays. Even with all the concision skills we learned in English, it's just really hard to describe something that's been such an integral aspect of my high school life. Thanks again to every single person who posted: I really appreciate your help and once again this really demonstrated to me how awesome the quizbowl community(not that I needed it at all).
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Thu Jun 04, 2015 10:34 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:The only exception might be Liberty University, I bet they would give you a quizbowl scholarship.
Actually, Michigan State invites a whole bunch of applicants who meet some GPA/test score threshold up every year in February to take a test. Rather than an SAT-style test, this test is almost entirely factual questions. They give away an enormous amount of money based on the test results (something like a dozen full rides, 15 full tuition, and a number of smaller grants along the lines of $5000/semester) each year, and in my experience well over half of winners have some kind of experience with quizbowl.

Sorry to distract the thread, but if you're looking to attend a flagship state school and have a high probability of not paying money, almost anyone on this forum with good grades would just kill it on the test.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by johntait1 » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:07 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:The only exception might be Liberty University, I bet they would give you a quizbowl scholarship.
Actually, Michigan State invites a whole bunch of applicants who meet some GPA/test score threshold up every year in February to take a test. Rather than an SAT-style test, this test is almost entirely factual questions. They give away an enormous amount of money based on the test results (something like a dozen full rides, 15 full tuition, and a number of smaller grants along the lines of $5000/semester) each year, and in my experience well over half of winners have some kind of experience with quizbowl.

Sorry to distract the thread, but if you're looking to attend a flagship state school and have a high probability of not paying money, almost anyone on this forum with good grades would just kill it on the test.
Thanks for the information; I'll probably apply there because of this. If anyone else has any tips on anything please post them as well!
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:44 pm

That's awesome, let me know if there's anything I can help with or put you in touch with anyone who's there currently (and that goes for anyone else interested, too). For formality's sake, it's the first one listed on this page; I'm sure Google can tell you more too.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by blizzard » Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:08 pm

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote:Speaking as someone who just applied to college last fall and whose application focused heavily on History Bowl and quiz bowl, I'd recommend for you to heavily emphasize those activities in your application. While it's important to list your competition results (I'm sure colleges will be impressed by your achievements) and your leadership positions in your application, what I feel is even more important is to describe what quiz bowl is, why it's important, and how it affected you. Since many people—including admissions officers—don't really know what quiz bowl is, or assume that it's some version of Jeopardy, it's up to you to describe what quiz bowl is, and make sure to present it as the worthwhile and educational activity that it is. Talk about how it rewards learning and how it introduces people to topics they didn't know or are not covered in school. Colleges like applicants who seek knowledge for knowledge's sake and people who can learn things by themselves, so that's a huge hook you have there. You should also describe how the activity affected you as a person—this could be when you won an important competition, when you found that your studying paid off, when you realized that school didn't teach you much at all—anything, really. There's a lot of life lessons to be gleaned from playing, and for someone who's done as much as you and been as successful as you, finding them shouldn't be too much of a problem. There's also a lot of unique qualities about quiz bowl that make it such a good topic to write about—from the all-encompassing nature of the activity to to intense head-to-head competition to the tight-knit community. Finally—be proud of what you've done and what you've spent your time on. You've shown passion and dedication and achievement in something, and colleges look for just those qualities in applicants.
This is a really good post, and if you can do all those, that will really help you. I did mostly the same, except I didn't go quite into that much detail describing quiz bowl. My Common App essay didn't solely focus on quiz bowl (sorry quiz bowl, Beyoncé takes precedence), but I did reference it in the essay. Also, the additionally essays or prompts most colleges require are a good place to do a new angle on quiz bowl and how it affected you, or to go into more detail about a specific event, tournament, feeling, etc. Awards and accomplishments aren't as impressive or meaningful if you don't describe their impact.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Saltasassi » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:24 pm

Quizbowl was a pretty sizable part of my apps, for sure. Under the Awards/Honors stuff, I listed my most easily-digestible quizbowl awards (e.g. All-State or anything with a nice title to it).

My Common App essay was all about quizbowl, but specifically how I got my school's team to switch from playing tournaments on bad questions to quality, pyramidal tournaments. (I framed this under the challenging-a-belief prompt.) If you can think of some aspect of your high school quizbowl career that shows your leadership or initiative, not just your success, then I think you could write a really solid essay on it.

Quizbowl also works as a topic for supplemental essays, if you're applying anywhere that has those. One of Stanford's supplements asked you to describe "an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development," and I couldn't write about anything but quizbowl for that.

A lot of people are recommending that you explain the nature of quizbowl in your essay, but if you're running into trouble with the word limit, then the Common App's Additional Information section might be a good place to do it. For example, in my actual essay, I only briefly described the concept of pyramidality. To augment this explanation, I included an example of a pyramidal tossup (citing which packet it came from) in the Additional Information section.

Best of luck to you during this whole process!
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by johntait1 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:51 am

Thanks for the response. I'm glad to know that others have written about it in both the common app essay and the supplements, since it would give an opportunity to emphasize some different aspects of the game. The additional information part really helped as well; I was thinking about including a pyramidal tossup in my common app essay to explain quizbowl, but realized that it might be too much of a digression(my essay is focused on my personal thoughts after a tough loss and how I dealt with it, going along with the failure prompt) and distract from my focus, plus it would have used up a lot of words.

On a somewhat unrelated note, did any of you use allusions to quizbowl in your essays? When I write for school, I often use allusions to help get my point across--describing a situation as a "New Frontier" or a "Tryst with Destiny"; using quotes such as "There is no substitute for victory." My AP English teacher got the allusions, but I'm not sure if they are a bit esoteric and would confuse admissions officers? Thanks for any help!
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:20 pm

johntait1 wrote:On a somewhat unrelated note, did any of you use allusions to quizbowl in your essays? When I write for school, I often use allusions to help get my point across--describing a situation as a "New Frontier" or a "Tryst with Destiny"; using quotes such as "There is no substitute for victory." My AP English teacher got the allusions, but I'm not sure if they are a bit esoteric and would confuse admissions officers? Thanks for any help!
I would be wary of name-dropping things ad nauseum; it's one thing to use a historical reference or a quote to structure your overall essay, but it's another to jam-pack an essay with disparate references which may go out of your control.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by johntait1 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:25 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
johntait1 wrote:On a somewhat unrelated note, did any of you use allusions to quizbowl in your essays? When I write for school, I often use allusions to help get my point across--describing a situation as a "New Frontier" or a "Tryst with Destiny"; using quotes such as "There is no substitute for victory." My AP English teacher got the allusions, but I'm not sure if they are a bit esoteric and would confuse admissions officers? Thanks for any help!
I would be wary of name-dropping things ad nauseum; it's one thing to use a historical reference or a quote to structure your overall essay, but it's another to jam-pack an essay with disparate references which may go out of your control.
Thanks for the advice, but I was more thinking about one reference as an interesting introductory sentence or to explain a certain point rather than packing my essay with them. For example, in one of my essays I used JFK's "New Frontier" to describe my experiences in History Bowl since our school had never competed before I started convince people to try it. I quoted part of the speech and emphasized how we were unfamiliar with the competition but also had many opportunities, and then talked about how we've acted upon the opportunities. In another essay I compared college with Nehru's "Tryst with Destiny" on Indian Independence: I described how entering college will be merely a step and how there will be future opportunities and challenges, and how I plan to deal with them. Maybe I should call it an extended metaphor, but wasn't really sure since the length often depends on the length of the essay. I used allusions in the plural more because I tend to use different ones for different essays rather than putting in a ton of allusions(I like to do that for non serious read aloud assignments but usually not for serious essays). Sorry if my original post wasn't too clear about that. Do you think that references in that manner would detract from the main point of the essay or help convey my message more clearly? Thank you for the help.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:40 pm

johntait1 wrote: Do you think that references in that manner would detract from the main point of the essay or help convey my message more clearly? Thank you for the help.
This is actually a very common way of structuring an admissions essay, and it's good when it's done well.
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Re: History Bowl/Quizbowl on College Applications

Post by no ice » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:23 pm

I don't intend to turn this thread into a college app clinic, but I was just wondering what other people put down for their hours/week and weeks/year for quizbowl in their Common App activities section. Other than the time spent at practices and tournaments, should time spent organizing/planning and time spent studying be counted? It seems like it would be unfair to count reading a book towards the hours, while packet reading very easily falls under the umbrella of time specifically dedicated to quizbowl. I ended up with the approximation of 10 hrs/wk for 40 wks/yr, which seems a little high, but is actually less than what other people I've asked have put on theirs. I know that precision is not at all a big deal for this part of the application, but I just wanted to hear how others approached it.
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