In my experience, there are three kinds of students when it comes to extracurriculars in high school. If you’re unsure about whether you’re doing enough or too little in terms of extracurriculars, keep on reading!
1. The Zealous
This is the kid who’s President of three clubs, founded two more, and is in another six just for the heck of it. Everyone either thinks The Zealous will get into their dream school or crash and burn – and they’re right. If you find yourself not learning anything about yourself from extracurriculars, or if your grades are dropping, it’s time to scale back and re-assess what you really care about.
Pro: The Zealous will get anything done, anytime. They’re hardworking and love seeing their efforts made tangible, and others look up to them because of it.
Con: Because every second is spent working, The Zealous will never get a break. If it gets extreme enough, they might even crash and burn, with negative effects on every aspect of their life. It’s a fine line between working hard and working smart.
2. The Apathetic
This is the kid who doesn’t give a duck’s feather about extracurriculars. Either they’re apathetic about everything in life or just don’t care about extracurriculars. Everyone either think The Apathetic will get into their dream school because they’re fantastic at some other thing (ie: grades) or won’t go far in life because they don’t care about anything. If you find yourself not being involved in any aspect of your life, find something, anything that vaguely interests you and explore it.
Pro: The Apathetic may just be passionate in another area, which is just as valid as being passionate about extracurriculars (cue The Zealous). And even if they don’t care about anything, it just leaves more opportunity to find something they do care about.
Con: The clock is ticking, and The Apathetic may find themselves unable to talk about anything substantial with others and during the college application process.
3. The Goldilocks
This is the kids who’s not in too many clubs, but is passionate about what extracurriculars decide to focus their energy on. While The Zealous may have spread themselves too thin and The Apathetic may not have spread themselves out at all, The Goldilocks has figured out the key to extracurriculars: at the end of the day, you should feel that every second of your work has been put to good use, and that “good” is something you have to determine for yourself.
Pro: The Goldilocks has it all figured out. Everyone should aspire to be this kid for a while in their high school career.
Con: Because they’ve hit the sweet spot, they may stagnate. They may be yielding good results, but they’ll never know if they can produce great results by pushing themselves to the limit. It’s good to be The Goldilocks when you need to focus on other aspects of your life, but extracurriculars are arguably the most formative experiences in a high school student’s career.
Essentially, there’s no one right way to go about extracurriculars. High school is about finding what works for you, so that you can maximize your productivity and walk away proud of what you accomplished. If that means joining ten clubs and becoming president for all of them, that’s fine. If that means spending your time on things other than extracurriculars, that’s fine too. Just make sure that you’re proud of what you’re doing and pushing yourself forward, and everything will fall in place.