It was my junior year of high school; Our guidance counselor came to class one day, handing out mock college application forms.
As I skimmed through them, I found myself stuck at the “extracurricular activities” portion.
It dawned on me that I had blown through half of my high school life without doing anything beyond what I was required to do! Would any college even accept someone who scraped by doing just the bare minimum?
I spent the next few weeks running around frantically. I signed myself up for organizations, volunteered at outreaches, applied for internships, and just about anything else that would pad the extracurricular portion of my college applications.
For the remaining two years of my high school life, I immersed myself into extracurricular activities that I would’ve never even considered before.
One afternoon, the editor-in-chief of a magazine I interned at assigned me to write an article and create art for an event that was happening in two hours. This meant that I had to have the final output ready in less than 30 minutes.
That was when I realized why colleges place a significant importance on a student’s extracurricular activities. I would’ve never been that crunched for time in a classroom setting.
These extracurricular activities constantly challenged me in all aspects and would later on prepare me for college and the real world.
Going beyond the bare minimum
I began enjoying these extracurriculars; I continued joining internships and organizations even after I sent in my college applications.
This, however, merited a lot of confused remarks from my family and friends. Why was I doing all these things when I didn’t have to? My friends would constantly tell me to “just ditch work” and hang out with them because “this is my time to have fun.” Sure, it was tempting, but I realized that working for my future is as important.
These extracurricular activities gave me real life experience and more room for self-discovery. Through interning at various companies, I was able to discover what my strengths and weaknesses are, what I enjoy doing, and which career path I want for myself.
These internships exposed me to entirely new cultures, people, and concepts. On the first day of one of my internships, our boss made us watch a bunch of rap OPM music videos; I was shocked to realize that I didn’t recognize a single artist on his list. Here was a whole culture that I had never even crossed paths with. It made me realize that there is a whole world to discover and these extracurriculars served as the first step in.
I noticed the change in my work ethic after I started doing extracurricular activities, too.
I used to be complacent with my deadlines at school and procrastinated a lot because I knew that there was a big safety net below me. But being in a real work environment had really challenged me to become more dependable and efficient with what was expected of me.
Being exposed to these real-life experiences as early as now is something that could help me thrive in college and in my chosen career path. The “extracurricular activities” portion on a college application isn’t just there to assess how well-rounded you are but also to aid your personal growth and explore your potential.
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