Opinion: Don’t do extracurriculars solely for college applications


Jessica Conley

When students sign up for activities they have no genuine interest in, solely because they look good, it is only unproductive for colleges or themselves.

“It’ll look good on your college applications.” 

Ask any high school student; they can attest to the constant barraging. While the phrase itself isn’t necessarily harmful, the mindset is a conspicuous problem in college admissions. 

As the college admissions process has become more competitive, there’s an unhealthy expectation for those involved to dedicate themselves to activities they have no genuine interest in. While students should try new things, they fall into the trap of meticulously crafting a list of activities and classes they think will make them desirable candidates. 

This is a big mistake: not all activities are worth your time. No one should overload themselves with activities they don’t enjoy because they think it will look good, and it’s often counterproductive to do so since that time could have been spent looking for something they have a genuine interest in. 

Some may argue that extracurriculars can be limited to those in lower-income areas or with family obligations. However, according to Harvard Admissions, “you should not feel that your chances for admission to college are hindered by the lack of extracurricular opportunities.” Instead, they look at the various kinds of opportunities students have had in their lifetime and try to assess how well they have taken advantage of those opportunities.

Stereotypical activities are popular for a reason; many people are passionate about volunteering or debate. It only becomes harmful when people participate to build their resumes.

When students feel like they need to go above and beyond, often new organizations are created. The effort spent creating a new process of doing things preexisting organizations have been doing is not productive. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Students from the Bay Area particularly feel the need to pile on extracurriculars and take rigorous classes on top of that. While colleges value rigor, no one should take such an abundance of Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) classes that they cannot handle, especially for subjects they have no care for. 

Submitting a tailored college application is like plagiarizing an essay: it’s not genuine, and you took the same amount of effort, if not more, to get it done.

Colleges would much rather see an authentic version of yourself, so devote your time to what interests you.