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Student Life

Idle Hands: Making Extracurriculars a Priority

Join something you really enjoy and stick with it.

Lahela Maxwell

October 26, 2012

Idle Hands: Making Extracurriculars a Priority
“Are you free Friday night?” Yes, actually, it’s the only night I am free, I think to myself, sadly. It’s frustrating. Personally, I really do enjoy keeping busy. I feel useless without having something to do. Hey, everybody’s different. My best friend constantly bemoans her lack of free time, as she juggles a part-time job, her volunteer swim coaching gig, and her volunteer project at our local zoo. She enjoys every one of them and she learns life lessons from the experiences

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“With coaching, I really feel like I’m making a difference, and I want to make these kids approach swimming like I do,” she enthused to me one late night after practice. Yes, we both complain about the strain it causes on our lives, and we wonder if it’s worth it. The struggle to balance our school work, our extracurricular activities and still attempt to maintain a social life is not a easy. It’s tempting to want to just sit at home, curl up into a ball and hide under your very soft blanket.

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Despite all these things crushing down upon us, we continue to work beyond just the classroom. Extracurricular activities do have more benefits than just college applications. They teach us to better handle life’s ups and downs and how we should never just focus our efforts solely on one area in life. My parents like to think that it keeps kids out of trouble. “Less idle time means less trouble,” my stepmother preaches.

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She signed my stepbrother up for sports from the age of three and he’s been playing basketball, football and baseball ever since. When I entered high school, I wanted to participate in something. I joined Upward Bound, an organization that assists students who were low-income and first generation in their families to attend college. It kept me busy and I learned a lot more from joining than if I just stayed at home studying every night. Our college counselor, Ms. Inouye, always reminds us at our annual counselor presentation to get involved, with something. She likes to relate the story of a former student who was just short of a genius, but was rejected from most of the colleges he applied to. He was a straight-A student, and couldn't fathom why he would ever be rejected. When asked what he did after school, he replied: “I finish all my homework, do some chores then--I play Xbox.” “Well, there was his problem, students. Colleges and prospective employers don’t want to hear about how you beat your high score on Halo. They want to hear about what you learned putting in 15 hours of practice for a baseball team. They want to hear about dedication, responsibility,” Ms. Inouye said. On the other hand though, admissions representatives can smell a faked resume from a mile away. Don’t just join a bunch of things because they look good, and for a short amount of time. Join something you really enjoy and stick with it. If you’re really into film, join the media club. Not only will you have something to put on your resume, you can learn about the field you’re interested in. You can meet people who have the same interests as you, and you can get hands-on experience doing what you love. If you love sports, join an athletic team. You make friends beyond the usual circle you hang out with, and learn to work as a team. The skills you learn in school clubs and teams are useful beyond school: the ability to work on a team and development of good communication skills are traits that college admissions and prospective employees look for. Get your hands dirty, but only with things you enjoy. It also enriches the high school experience knowing that you had a thing you did--not related to school, not related to friends, but related to something you truly enjoy. And really, isn't that what high school’s all about?

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