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Approaching Extracurriculars

Approaching Extracurriculars

“Don’t spread yourself thin,” is an oft-quoted maxim, and every college information session, tour guide and college advisor will say it is true.

Maya Moritz

October 24, 2013

“Don’t spread yourself thin,” is an oft-quoted maxim, and every college information session, tour guide and college advisor will say it is true.

There is a misconception among high school students (I also thought it in my freshman year) that the more activities one has on their resume, the better. Colleges will go for the fifteen-club student above the two-club one, right?

I later realized that the process is not that simple. With school activities, “the more the merrier” applies less than the dedication shown through consistency, commitment and leadership.

A candidate with three charities, two hobby groups, a language club and a position at the newspaper is less appealing than the editor of the school newspaper, the student government secretary, or the president of the Save the Animals Club.

Additionally, universities appreciate well-rounded students. A straight-A student who paints and runs 5-K’s for cancer may be a better candidate than a straight-A student in the math club and honors society.

In every information session we attended, the campus activities and clubs were emphasized as crucial to social life and community, so colleges seek applicants who will better the community, join clubs, create clubs, and encourage others to join in and participate.

During my freshman year, I joined thirteen clubs, ranging from stopping child hunger to photography club. By the third month of school, I had dedicated myself to Model United Nations, one charity, the Spanish club, and Science Olympiad.

Just as every student learns that they cannot balance seven AP courses, students must realize that they cannot both participate in and lead a multitude of clubs. One must learn to follow their passions, so that they become a well-rounded, interesting candidate likely to bring positive energy to campus.

Also, students will, or should, learn that extracurriculars cannot encroach on study time. GPA, in the most competitive universities, is the first barrier applicants must cross. If an admissions officer sees a 2.0, they are unlikely to read on and see the multitude of after school activities the applicant participates in.

Above all else, a college or university is a place of education. The hundreds of clubs, from singing groups to debate teams, are second to the academic rigor a school expects its students to embrace.

While the impression a student’s list of extracurricular activities might give a school is important to consider, the student’s interest in these clubs is truly the reason to pursue a club, especially one that needs commitment, time, or work.

For example, a charity that runs bake sales for the poor may require an hour of your time once per month. This club does not take much time and will certainly not interfere with schoolwork when planned for ahead of time. As a result, the student’s interest is less important because the club benefits a cause.

However, a club like Model United Nations or Science Olympiad requires a lot more time, work and dedication. These clubs have deadlines; events which will make participants absent from school and ask a great time commitment. For time-consuming clubs like these, an uninterested student is unlikely to excel, learn, attain a leadership position, make friends, or make advisor connections.

Generally, the more commitment a club asks, the more motivated a student must be to join.

Students must also be weary of joining clubs with friends. Organized efforts like political campaigns, debate clubs and language societies will be more fun with friends and work can be done while simultaneously having fun with friends.

On the other hand, less organized and more individual-motivated clubs may become group hang-outs as opposed to functional clubs. If the “club time” that does not allow a student sufficient time to complete their homework consists solely of food, chatting and music, the student may consider adding more work to the club or pursuing another one altogether.

In high school, time is precious. Students must balance their school hours and homework with family time, time with friends, free time and extracurricular activities. Such a balance means sacrifice and making difficult decisions.

For example, in my sophomore year, I found I no longer had the room in my schedule to accommodate Latin class, though it was one of my favorite classes. With no other options, I dropped Latin, the Latin club, the photography club and several charities.

Such decisions are hard, as I had friends in each of these clubs, but ultimately the payoff was less stress, higher grades and more time to devote to my other clubs, classes and spending time with friends.

The amount of clubs and involvement in these clubs that a student can handle is influenced by their schedule, energy and motivation, but each student can find at least one interesting club to really devote themselves to and add to their college resumes.



How do you balance your schoolwork and extracurricular activities?


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