Band, piano lessons, volunteering, SAT prep...you guys are so busy it makes us tired just thinking about it. A Sparkler writes:
I am a sophomore. I know that colleges look not only look at your grades but your extracurricular activities...so I need help making a decision. I was in band since 7th grade and now I really want to quit...but do you think it will effect me getting into college?? I am aiming at getting into an Ivy League school...and I just don't want quitting band a reason I get rejected....I understand that you need "your calling" in high school...and if I leave band I really won't have one....but I am feeling really stressed out with band...because we have so many after school practices..and games and contests...that it is eating away all my time....and I can't find enough time to do homework and practice for the SAT and do anything else....like Piano Private lessons and Volunteering. Please help me!....Thank you very much.
It's true that colleges look at your extracurricular activities. Specifically, they look to see whether you stuck with your extracurriculars and eventually took on leadership roles.
I was just like you in high school—I gave serious thought to dropping out of band, but I didn't, and I think I made the right decision. One thing I didn't anticipate at the beginning of my senior year was how rewarding it would be to be a senior member of an organization. I found my last year in band to be the most fun. I was able to help younger members in many ways and suddenly I had a say in lots of little things I couldn't influence as an underclassman. It was exciting to see my senior class shape the organization, and fun to look back on all the good times we had. Yes, it was time-consuming, stressful, and at times tedious, but the feeling of performing on the football field that last time is one of those priceless memories that you don’t want to miss out on. Basically, as hard as all those practices and competitions are, I would urge you not to quit. Admissions committees will view all that dedication and hard work very positively.
I understand the time crunch you are faced with. Here is what I would do: carefully evaluate where all your time goes. If there is a club or organization that you've joined recently, or that you're not very excited about, drop it. If you're passionate about piano lessons, make time for them—but if they're something you just picked up or are thinking of picking up, tread cautiously. It’s much more important to have a long-term connection to a few organizations than to belong to lots of organizations/activities that you have no history with and no leadership role in. Colleges aren’t very impressed with numerous clubs and groups where no leadership role was ever achieved. Therefore, be choosy with your time and don’t drop out of an organization you have been a member of since 7th grade.
It's hard to strike a balance between getting good grades and being involved in high school activities. When in doubt, minimize the extracurricular involvements you don’t have a long term personal connection with—especially if those activities are eating into valuable study time.
Do you have a question about extracurriculars, applications, or anything else college-related? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.