Students should stack their experience, not their resume


Photo courtesy of John Walker.

Students sit at graduation ready to move on to the next part of their life. In order to get to this moment students often stress themselves out jam-packing their schedule with extracurriculars in order to get into college.

By Rachel Mattison, Online Editor

Although the WCHS school day ends at 2:30 p.m., most students’ days do not end until much later. Much of this time is taken up by various extracurriculars that are meant to be a way for students to express themselves and have fun. However, the motivation for choosing extracurriculars has become looming college applications, with many students overloading themselves with activities that will seem attractive on college resumes. Students already have enough on their plates; extracurriculars should be a time to pursue passions and decompress. 

As soon as a student enters high school, there is talk about college and planning for their future. From getting good grades to forming good relationships with teachers, students are oftentimes in the mindset of “doing this for college.” At WCHS, over 92 percent of students attend a four-year college after they graduate, but the academic competition creates an environment where they feel that they must find another edge in the form of extracurriculars for the admissions process.

There is not a lack of options for extracurriculars at WCHS. With over 170 clubs, students can find clubs ranging from Guitar Club to Science Bowl. At the annual WCHS Club Day, it is not an uncommon occurrence for students to walk out of the gymnasium signed up for over 10 clubs. In addition to clubs, students participate in sports, jobs and other non-school sponsored activities.

The Common App, which most WCHS students use when applying to colleges, allows students  to list 10 extracurricular activities they participated in. This creates the perception that in order to be a strong applicant, they must fill all 10 slots. However, according to PrepScholar, a SAT tutoring and college guidance company, five to six is the “goldilocks” amount of activities where students are being active but also bearing a manageable load. 

When choosing which activities to participate in during high school, especially earlier on, students should explore everything they can. Most importantly, they should always have the mindset of doing the extracurricular because they want to, and not because they think a college wants them to. By swamping themselves with activities they do not enjoy, they risk losing sight of what they truly care about. Moreover, colleges can oftentimes tell when students sign up for clubs for the sole purpose of building their application, as there is a visible difference between the student who is genuinely involved and the one who is nominally so.

The saying “quality over quantity” is extremely applicable to extracurricular activities. According to U.S. News and World Report, college admissions officers care more about the depth and leadership students show in a few key activities than they do about a large number of shallower activities. By focusing their time on fewer activities, students are able to show deeper commitment and leadership skills. That is much more valuable than a long list of club names. 

Extracurriculars should show that students take advantage of opportunities outside of school that allow them to pursue interests and grow as a member of the community. After all, the college is not accepting a list of activities as their student. Racking up a jumble of activities just for the sake of it is a useless venture.

High school is only a short time and should be filled with opportunities and experiences that students will cherish for the rest of their lives. Having genuine extracurriculars will be much more enjoyable than simply viewing these four years as preparation for college. Stress levels for high schoolers are already too high, and the mental benefits of enjoying their time will be far more beneficial than the minuscule benefit an extra activity on an application may bring a student.

Students cannot control whether they are accepted or declined to the colleges that they want to attend. With this in mind, students should control what they can and only do activities that they truly want to participate in. If a student gets rejected after spending the previous four years doing activities that they hated, they will be crushed, whereas a student who gets rejected after a fun four years in high school will at least know they enjoyed their time there.

Enjoy the journey of high school without worrying the whole time about where the final destination may be. Resume filling is an unnecessary thing to spend time on – just focus on what you truly want to do and delve into that. Only by doing that can you truly enjoy high school for the experience it should be.