Don’t lose sleep over admissions

Resume-padding hurts more than it helps, both for applications and mental health

When+it+comes+to+college+admissions%2C+students+often+struggle+to+balance+necessary+activities+like+school%2C+work+and+sleep+with+extracurricular+activities%3B+since+life+is+hard+enough%2C+why+participate+in+certain+activities+purely+for+the+sake+of+appearances+and+applications%3F
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Don’t lose sleep over admissions

When it comes to college admissions, students often struggle to balance necessary activities like school, work and sleep with extracurricular activities; since life is hard enough, why participate in certain activities purely for the sake of appearances and applications?

When it comes to college admissions, students often struggle to balance necessary activities like school, work and sleep with extracurricular activities; since life is hard enough, why participate in certain activities purely for the sake of appearances and applications?

Sophie Ryland

When it comes to college admissions, students often struggle to balance necessary activities like school, work and sleep with extracurricular activities; since life is hard enough, why participate in certain activities purely for the sake of appearances and applications?

Sophie Ryland

Sophie Ryland

When it comes to college admissions, students often struggle to balance necessary activities like school, work and sleep with extracurricular activities; since life is hard enough, why participate in certain activities purely for the sake of appearances and applications?

Sophie Ryland, co-editor in chief

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“I’m only joining to make my college application look good.”

“This will be a great resume builder”.

“Colleges love when people are involved in groups like this.”

You may have heard these statements at some point at school, when people are telling their friends about the latest club, volunteer organization or other extracurricular activity that they’ve joined.
But this kind of thinking is a bad idea on multiple levels. Take it from me, someone who began the college admissions process not understanding at all how it works, but then read countless articles, questioned admissions officers and finished all of the applications, financial aid and scholarships while balancing classes, extracurriculars, family, social life and mental health.

First of all, if you’re simply doing something because you’re concerned about college admissions, here’s the thing: colleges don’t care if you were a member of a million extracurriculars. All this tells them is that you were overly concerned about the appearance of success, and that’s not an attractive candidate.

Ultimately, what admissions officers are really looking for are passionate, hard-working students who take the time and make the effort to get involved, and this is best conveyed with meaningful participation in a few choice activities, not entry-level membership in twenty unrelated clubs”

Much like as in dating, the harder someone works to impress someone, the less likely they are to be interested.

What admission officers want to see is that you were deeply involved in a few activities that you truly care about and continued to learn and develop that interest into something meaningful for you.

Do you care deeply about climate change? Then by all means go ahead and join Environmental Knights and fully participate as much as you can. Worried that you don’t have enough volunteer hours on your resume? Instead of jumping into something you don’t really care about, and as a result won’t make the most of, consider what interests you and plan accordingly.

Ultimately, what admissions officers are really looking for are passionate, hard-working students who take the time and make the effort to get involved, and this is best conveyed with meaningful participation in a few choice activities, not entry-level membership in twenty unrelated clubs.

Plus, when it comes to college admission, your biggest priority should be finding the best place for you. If you’re presenting a false version of yourself– someone who deeply cares about x sport, y club and z volunteer project, when in fact you only did those things just to say you did them– then they’re not admitting you for you as a fit for their school. And why would you want to go to school who doesn’t want you as you are?

There’s another thing to consider– if you don’t like it, why are you doing it? We only have four years in high school. There’s enough tedium between class, homework and standardized tests; why would you want to force yourself to devote precious hours of your free time to something you really don’t care about? It doesn’t make sense to overextend yourself for the sake of activities that don’t bring meaning or value to your life.

I quit several extracurricular activities over the course of my time in high school, due to illness, schedule conflicts and being overcommitted, and this often raised concern among the people who cared about me. They would often ask if I was worried about how this would look on college applications, but for me the truth was simple.

At the end of the day, resume-padding just isn’t worth it”

I figured that as long as I was still involved with many of the things that truly mattered to and interested me, admissions officers would see it for what it was: I had to prioritize and I chose those things that made me the most fulfilled so that I could fully invest myself in them.

I firmly believe that quitting can be a beautiful and necessary thing; no one should push themselves past their limit for something that is not deeply important to them. I was not accepted at every school I applied to, but for the ones I was, I felt excited and confident that I was a good fit for them, and vice-versa, as I had presented a truthful version of myself for them to judge.

By choosing carefully and only joining organizations whose missions and values you connect with, you will 1) be happier 2) work harder for that organization 3) make a real difference and 4) find real meaning in how you’re spending your time. And that is what will make an impression on an admission’s officer. More importantly, it will keep you happy and sane throughout the trials and tribulations you will inevitably encounter over the course of your high school career.

At the end of the day, resume-padding just isn’t worth it. You’ll make yourself miserable if you stretch yourself thin across extracurricular activities you aren’t actually invested in. Make yourself a better college candidate, and a happier high school student, and do what you want to do, not what you think you should do.

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