Key to Success
The common rumor is to be involved in as many clubs, activities, community service organizations and sports as you can. The truth is, its more important to choose to do what you love. You will do it well, and a college admissions board will be more impressed. If they are not impressed, perhaps it is because their school does not have the facilities to allow you to continue with your talents. In that case, that particular school is not for you.
Being involved is important during the high school years. You will feel connected, you will be giving back to the community, you will be broadening your interests, and you will be developing your talents. However, if you are involved only to impress a college admissions board, you are missing the point. Most admission boards are not impressed by a full and varied schedule. Colleges look to educate and help a student further develop a specific skill or talent. A college application that boasts of five activities in a student's junior year, yet reveals that the student quit the Jazz band after having participated in it from grade 6 to 10 may confuse an admissions officer rather than impress him. He may remain wondering what happened to the student's interest in music. Why didn’t the student stay in Jazz band? If there was a good reason for quitting music, the student should include it on his/her application. Your interests define what you love to do (e.g., music, athletics, debating, community service, working with children, art, computer work). Your activities should reflect your interests and your dedication to those interests.
Expertise is often measured by dedication. Consider your doctor. You want a qualified, dedicated, informed practitioner who is constantly updating his skills. Sitting in his office, you feel confident when observing the stacks of dog-eared medical journals and periodicals. To hear him speak of his garden, just after quoting from the New England Journal of Medicine would make him seem more down to earth and accessible, but not to the point of being like you, the patient. A red flag may instinctively go up if you find your doctor enjoys skiing, gardens, chairs three boards, is rarely available for phone calls due to outside events, and has his office packed with popular magazines. Correctly or not, his lack of focus might make you doubt his skills and question your choice to entrust your health to him.
College admissions officials understand that devotion to a passion may prohibit or limit time spent on other pursuits. Rather than seeing this as a weakness, it will be viewed as maturity and dedication. So, choose to do what you love. After all, it is your life. Beyond your necessary academic work, focus on what gives you the most pleasure while developing your skills. If getting into college is all about filling up a resume of activities that don’t interest you, why would you want to go there anyway?
Do what makes sense. Devote your free time to doing what interests you. Try new things. Stop those activities which no longer interest you. Be involved and have fun. In high school, as it will continue to be throughout life, there are enough things that you must do without making your extra curricular activities burdensome. Learn how to use your free time to refresh yourself, to develop those talents you cherish, and to pursue the activities which bring you the most happiness. Success will follow.