Leah Gans | La Jolla Country Day Senior
High school students’ schedules are insane, often completely overbooked with extracurricular activities. When asking around, I discovered that many students take on these crazy schedules not because of a genuine passion for these pursuits, but to add to their college applications. That said, many of these same students ended up finding activities they really love, so maybe the added pressure to build a resume isn’t such a bad thing after all.
I asked various students what activity means the most to them. LJCDS senior Mary explained her experience on the board of TRACE, which stands for “Teens Responding to Aids with Care and Education.” TRACE students are trained by Planned Parenthood to volunteer as peer educators in schools where sex education is lacking. According to Mary, “I have learned so much new information through TRACE, and love being able to help and educate my peers. The work I am doing is meaningful, and the feeling that I am actually making a difference really resonates with me.” CCA student Emily shared that she works at the retail store Tilly’s during the school year as one of her primary extracurricular activities: “I was originally just looking for a summer job, and something to beef up college apps, but now I’ve been working here for over a year and I feel like I have found another family. I’ve learned valuable real life work skills that I know I will use in the future, and I have had fun while learning them.”
While I don’t think I ever joined an activity simply for the sake of college applications, it might be why I continued some of activities even when I felt completely overwhelmed. My advice to underclassmen is to only involve yourself in activities you genuinely enjoy! Try new things, but don’t stick with ones that don’t resonate with you, because there are so many choices out there that you are bound to find one you love. In fact, when filling out my college applications, I realized that many schools limit the number of activities you can list, meaning the most difficult part was choosing which ones to include. I know many of my peers share this “over-involved” struggle. We now realize that, instead of focusing on what we thought colleges were looking for, it would have been easier if we involved ourselves more deeply in a few activities we really loved. I guess that’s the kind of involvement the colleges were really looking for after all. Lesson learned.