If you’re an overachiever (which, given your visit to the Prospect, I’m guessing you are), you were probably pretty involved in high school. When you saw an empty plate, you filled it. It’s not your fault. It’s just your disposition. Maybe you’re someone who has to try EVERYTHING because everything is so INTERESTING and you want to experience all that the world has to offer! Maybe you went to a dreadfully small public school whose clubs required your membership, and often leadership, to continue functioning at even a basic level. Or maybe you have nagging relatives who keep pushing you into commitments. For whatever reason, you were busy.
While college might feel like a clean break from a heavy schedule, you’ll soon find out that post-secondary education offers even more student groups and organizations for you to explore. Remember the Activities Fair from Pitch Perfect? That’s not (much of) an exaggeration. Club members will literally throw themselves at you. And when that doesn’t work, they’ll offer baked goods. And when that doesn’t work they might cry. You’ll end up signing onto a lot of mailing lists and before you know it, you’re booked all over again.
Some of these activities might be passions of yours. I’m sure you don’t want to think about giving any of it up, but sometimes it’s best to cut ties and let go. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself to figure out if you need to break up with your extracurricular.
Is this interfering with your schoolwork?
Believe it or not, you’re attending college for one purpose, and one purpose only: to become hirable. This includes going to classes, earning credits to obtain a degree, and learning the skills necessary to survive out in the corporate jungle. Everything else is extra, including extracurriculars. If an activity is taking up so much of your time that you have trouble keeping up with school stuff, you should reevaluate its place in your life.
Are you learning anything valuable there?
Like, I’m sure Connect Four Enthusiasts Union is like, super fun and stuff, but will all those hours of strategizing really contribute to any skills that you can put on a resume? Or use in the workplace? If you’re putting a lot of time into something, it’s worth asking yourself what you’re getting out of it.
Are there leadership positions available?
Again, these look killer on a resume. I’m not suggesting you plan a hostile takeover. You don’t have to be the president. You can be an officer in any capacity. Being a social media chair shows your ability to adapt to new trends and technology, as well as communicate effectively. Working as a secretary will hone your attention to detail and your ability to hold your peers accountable to deadlines. Treasurers aren’t just glorified checkbook balancers. They manage finances, plan budgets, and allocate funding. If your organization functions more as an open Executive Board, use that to your advantage in interviews, emphasizing your ability to work well with others without imposing hierarchical roles. If you can’t put a positive spin on your place in the group, then it isn’t going to do much to show you off to potential employers.
Do you actually enjoy it?
Okay, this is the big one. While you might be in college to get yourself job-ready, you’re also still a human being. You should be happy. That’s kind of the point of doing things. Don’t just join a club out of obligation or ambition. Unless you actually want to be there, you’re not doing yourself or other members any favors. Reevaluate from time to time. Is this extracurricular something that you actually want to be doing?
If you’re looking back and realizing that one or more of your extracurriculars isn’t going to pan out, try to be considerate to other members. If and when you do quit, be sure not to leave the club out high and dry. If possible, wait until between semesters to bail, rather than checking out before a big event. And if you’re having second thoughts? Just remember that you need to do what’s right for you.