Thursday, July 29, 2010

Extracurriculars

Both college and high school would be vastly incomplete without something other than academics that students could get involved in. Extracurricular activities are an unquestionably important part of a complete educational experience. However, there is a right and a wrong way to incorporate them into your schooling career. You are probably already aware of most of the ways extracurriculars can go horribly wrong. Stacking way too many of them drains very large amounts of time out of your schedule, and as a result, your grades suffer. If you're not sure whether you're doing too many, compare your grades at the end of semester or marking period, to those you had in a previous section of time, and see if there are any markable differences. If so, drop a few activities, and try again, once again comparing results and adapting accordingly. Another way extracurriculars can be done incorrectly is doing them solely to add padding to your resume, and thus, performing poorly in them. When you have absolutely no interest in something, it will show subconsciously, whether you'd like it to or not. We like to provide realistic advice on this website, so I understand that a ton of students will do extracurriculars, regardless of desire level, to make themselves more valuable to colleges and graduate schools. However, at least try to make sure that you have some semblance of an interest in whatever the extracurricular happens to be. In this way, you'll not only be somewhat entertained, but as a result, you'll probably make a more meaningful contribution. Another way extracurriculars can go wrong is to not do any at all. A lot of students might carry the mindset of: "Why waste time on extracurriculars when I can devote those hours to studying, and getting a better GPA. Won't a higher GPA mean more to colleges than any extracurriculars will?" This is a valid concern, but do you think a higher GPA will mean more to colleges than absolutely NO extracurriculars will? Colleges will look at your records and see just what you have presented yourself as, that is, a straight up student who has no interests other than getting high grades. Is this the image of yourself you want colleges to perceive? Perhaps GPA points are worth more than extracurriculars in the long run, but a student who has no, or very few, activities on his record will definitely raise a few red flags in the admissions office. If managed carefully, extracurriculars are an excellent way of not only unloading some of the pressure of school, but discovering something about yourself, learning something new, meeting new people, and more practically, standing out amongst other students.

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