It’s true that colleges value a well rounded applicant, but being a jack of all trades is not always a virtue. To do something well and be the best at it is far better than being slightly above average at multiple activities. Doing community service and extracurriculars solely for its appearance on your resume will only get you so far. When typing up your resume or while you’re doing one of these activities, ask yourself, “What do I really want from this?”
You tell yourself you are doing the best you can, but are you really? These four years are an investment for your future, but what good is playing four instruments, joining the debate team, participating in DECA, playing five different sports, or being on the math team if you are, to put it simply, average? Excessively taking part in all these clubs and extracurriculars puts undue stress on ourselves without yielding any lasting results.
Pick one thing, anything, and be better than average. Then, with that, start other extracurriculars. Choose a cause you believe in, and then do community service. There is too much to do in this world to waste time. The competition is often overwhelming, and it seems as if the only answer is to just do everything humanly possible. Just because you can, does not mean you should. Not only does it increase stress, it is not as effective. In high school, we are more than willing to give up our happiness now for the promise of the future we desire. Yet, there is no guarantee for this promise. When do we stop sacrificing happiness for something as unpredictable as the future?
Finding something that you love to do is much easier said than done. Instead, find something to believe in, and then do something about it. In our eyes, college acceptance is perceived as a big hurdle, and seeing past those four years is difficult. All these extracurriculars may seem like a stepping stone to get into college, but do they really reflect who you are? If college was out of the picture, would you continue it or would it just be a burden? Ultimately, after college, graduate school, medical school, or law school, your career begins.
The idea of success stemming from having money and recognition does not imply that happiness is an outcome as well. It is not necessary to choose one over the other. Pick both success and happiness. Participating in extracurriculars and doing community service for the sole purpose of something as material as the name of a college is not worth it in the grand scheme. Be certain that you’re doing these extracurriculars for yourself and not for college. To the admissions officers, it is all just words on a paper, but to you, it is hours of dedication and work.
Graphic: Ryan Rhew