College applications sound more like checklists

Seniors and ambitious underclassmen spend a considerable amount of hours researching what colleges want them participating in.

Olivia Kirklin

Seniors and ambitious underclassmen spend a considerable amount of hours researching what colleges want them participating in.

Olivia Kirklin, Guest Contributor

Extracurriculars have become a time consuming and virtually required element for high school students in order to be admitted into college. Throughout all four years of high school, students must work on building credentials for themselves.

Colleges have developed high expectations for high school students, putting major emphasis on academic ability, high test scores, and students with the best chance of succeeding at their school. Additionally, they look for major involvement in the student’s high school and community through clubs and volunteering, and maintaining a job or internship. It can be difficult for students to balance a social life, maintain their grades, and participate in multiple extracurricular activities.

Extracurriculars function to reveal to colleges what you do in your free time, your values, and important qualities such as dedication, commitment, responsibility, and time management, the sides of you that grades can’t show. Colleges use these to distinguish between students with similar grades, and to see if you are a good match for what they offer.

However, these days it seems that extracurriculars are done just for the benefit of bragging rights on college applications. Students don’t always perform extracurriculars willingly, and very rarely they are used as a source of entertainment, instead we do them in order to make good impressions, so that colleges will merely consider us.

Sometimes we even feel forced to do them in order to meet requirements and prerequisites for other classes or simply so we will fit in socially and meet graduation requirements. We find it’s easiest to conform and follow the instructions of colleges we aren’t even admitted into in order to keep up with the highly competitive academic systems.  

High school should be what allows us to explore career paths and develop practical and realistic skills to utilize in the future. Instead it has become a place of distractions in doing things we feel we need to do, but not want to do. It can become overwhelming to try to find a career path for yourself whilst consistently having to look for approval from others through activities that are only temporary.

Unfortunately, all these extracurriculars disappear after high school. In fact, the majority of colleges do not offer the same clubs and organizations that many students are participating in, but this doesn’t mean the cycle of approval cuts off. After entering college we must build new credentials for ourselves, but this time for future jobs, so if you are going to join extracurriculars, make sure you are genuinely interested in them to enhance training for the future.E