The competition to get into college gets fiercer by the year, with students pulling through with the same straight A’s, the same amount of AP classes, and nearly perfect SAT scores. As expectations and requirements rise higher and higher, students are forced to stand out amongst peers, and therefore partake in different extracurriculars to showcase themselves to the colleges as a well-rounded student.
Many students take extracurriculars that they are actually interested in, in hopes of satisfying their curiosity. However, in other cases, students endure through just for the benefits of presidential awards or for their resume, or have desperate parents who believe it’s either Harvard or failure.
Stephanie Kim, a sophomore at Diamond Bar High School [DBHS], participates in various extracurriculars and volunteers at a museum and an orphanage. Stephanie said that it is “stressful because everyone [at DBHS] does extracurriculars” and that she is compelled “to do as much extracurriculars as [her fellow peers] so that [she] can keep up with them.”
Christina Song, a sophomore at Beckman High School, said that she is compelled to take AP classes but “suffer[s] and get[s] low grades on the exams, [with] the only way to make [it] up is by being involved in activities.” Every Friday after school, Christina voluntarily gives up her time for choir, but voiced that “choir drains [the] energy out of [her].”
Aadam Muhammad, a sophomore at University High School, voiced his discontent towards superficial students. He believes that “colleges do care about what you do outside of school more than grades, [but] what students fail to realize is that the extracurriculars [are] supposed to reflect who you are and what you’re passionate about” and that “all [those] different types of jobs they’re interning for” are all over the spectrum and distinctly show the superficiality of those who are “desperate to do anything to get into a [good] college.”
Grace Park, also a sophomore at Beckman, agreed “that many students just do extracurricular activities not just for a good cause but also to get into a good college” and says that “[it] is morally wrong.”
In contrast to those who are forced by their parents or compelled to build a good resume, there are also students who genuinely love to learn and enjoy engaging in diverse extracurriculars.
Jihee Yoon, also a sophomore at University High School, participates in many extracurriculars including Model United Nations, IMPACT, choir, track, and more. Through MUN, Jihee stated that she has “grown as a public speaker and developed better knowledge about international issues and events that occur.” Through IMPACT, Jihee “lead[s] freshmen who do not know anything about high school and keep them active in school activities”. She emphasized that her “parents don’t force [her]” to partake in extracurriculars and that she “found interest when [her] friends told [her] about [their extracurriculars]” and she does it out of her own will.
The different views on extracurriculars show that, regardless of the fact that they enjoy or are compelled/forced to engage in extracurriculars, everyone still is involved in extracurricular activities. Whether it is because to be a better student or to look like a better student, there is no doubt that it is all in part due to the competitiveness to get into the top tier schools and to outshine the rest of the students competing for that same ticket to the dream college.
Students should take advantage of the opportunities given to them and find a new purpose in engaging in the extracurriculars. Even if the starting reason was because you were forced to, through the process of volunteering or debating or playing an instrument, students should strive to use it as an opportunity to become a better person and improve and learn and not just half-heartedly do it, just to get accepted into that one college. Most importantly, however, is choosing extracurriculars that reflect the real you, and not the get-me-to-the-Ivy-League you!