In high school, the students who take on a lot of extracurriculars and other activities are often labeled as “try-hards” and “overachievers.” I’ve even heard teachers say “You’re just doing that so you can put it on your college application.” And while many make this fact seem evil or derogatory, I beg to differ. Is there really such a thing as overachieving? Is it truly bad to do something because it will improve your college application?
In my opinion, the short answer to those questions is no. There is absolutely nothing wrong with involving yourself in a wide range of activities, as long as you don’t spread yourself too thin. And as for those who may call you an “overachiever” for doing so, they might be a bit jealous. How much beyond the norm you plan to achieve is your business, and not anyone else’s.
Extracurriculars are extremely important in high school. In addition to looking great on college applications, they can prepare you for real life experiences, and introduce you to new situations you might have never encountered if you hadn’t participated. Activities like the arts, community service, mentoring and tutoring, student government, and more, all require different strengths and skills to be tested. By doing these things in high school, you will be able to use these skills and experiences in college and the world beyond. Provided you do not make too many commitments that prevent you from dedicating time to each activity, extracurriculars can show colleges that you are a well-rounded student. But that isn’t all-- they also make you a well-rounded person in general.
I will be a senior in high school this year, and as I begin to fill out my college applications, I am proud of what I have accomplished. While being so involved has been trying at times, being able to list the things I have done and know that I am stronger for doing them makes everything worth it. Whether you are someone who likes to participate in everything, or someone who is wondering what they should participate in, I encourage you: Try hard, and achieve as much as you desire. It doesn’t matter if you just try something because it looks good on an app, it only matters that you try. The people you meet and the experiences you have are what makes it worth something.
So, the next time someone tries to invalidate the reasons you join an extracurricular activity, tell them “Yes, it does look good on an application, and I’m having fun while doing it.”