College & Career

Yes, but only to a point

Abby-ZhongBy Abby Zhong

It’s worth it to try and take part in many extracurricular activities, but don’t stress yourself out. Getting your life together for college applications can be overwhelming because you already have to maintain good grades and attendance. On top of that, you want to join a variety of clubs and take part in different activities to ensure that your college application will stand out.

The Common App and most non-Common App schools allow you to have a maximum of 10 different extracurricular activities. These activities include jobs, community service, sport teams and clubs. You shouldn’t have more than 10 because you’ll overload yourself with unnecessary work. It may also seem like you’re trying too hard or joining random clubs just because it looks good.

You should do extracurricular activities that are both in and outside your comfort zone—these activities should represent who you are as a student and what you’re interested in, not what looks best on a college app. For example, if you love books and know you don’t like sports at all, then instead of trying out for a team, join a book club. If you’ve always had an interest in writing but never did anything about it, then go ahead and join the school newspaper. That way, you won’t be wasting your time and energy on something that doesn’t appeal to you.

It’s important to spend your time doing things that will benefit you instead of doing them just because it looks good on your college applications.

No, quality is more important than quantity

Syeda-SameehaBy Syeda Sameeha,
Glenbard East

Activity laundry lists don’t seem impressive, especially to college admissions counselors. Don’t overload yourself with extracurriculars, especially if you are doing them to look good on your college applications.

According to a survey conducted by American Psychological Association, more and more teens are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, especially during the school year. This is due to a number of factors like academic pressure, social acceptance and a huge number of commitments.

Is it really worth it to overload on extracurriculars?

Yes, colleges do look for a well-rounded individual, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill up your schedule with almost every activity you think will look good on your application.

Find your passions and try to involve yourself in activities related to those passions. Interested in debate? Then join your school’s team. Really into art? Work on your portfolio.

Remember, it’s better to have two to three extracurriculars that you actively participate in because it shows colleges you truly enjoy them. You’d rather show growth with a few leadership roles than be in 10 different activities you don’t care about.

Quality is always more important than quantity. At the end of the day, do what you love. Don’t do certain activities just to please college admissions. They will be able to tell if you have genuine passion and interest or not. These are supposed to be some of the best years of your life, so enjoy it while still working hard!

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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