How to Get Involved
I'm a Junior in High School. A very ambitious Junior. I want to go to a great college and go to a prestigious medical school and become a pediatrician. Problem is I don't have anything to put on my resume. I'm in AP classes and I've been recognized for my academic achievements but that's pretty much it. I have no extracurriculars. I don't play any sport and I'm not in any clubs. I'm afraid to join a sport because I think I'll look like an idiot and I'm not in any clubs because I never know when those things start. I volunteered once at the YMCA day camp over the summer and that's about it. Here's the problem:
I WANT TO DO SOMETHING! I want to play volleyball or soccer, even baseball! I want to join Key Club or be apart of the student government. I want to intern at a hospital or something. I've no idea where to look or start and this is my last chance to show colleges what I've got. I've talked to my counselor but for some reason she doesn't like me so I can't get anything useful out of her and I think I'm about to die! Help me!?
You are right that elite colleges tend to admit students who are well-rounded. They don't want undergrads who are just successful academically; they want people who have demonstrated leadership, and who have done something unique and ambitious that sets them apart from the crowd. Getting involved in clubs and volunteer opportunities is a great place to start.
If you want to pursue a medical career, I would look for opportunities to get involved with science- or medicine-related extracurriculars. Does your high school have a science club? You say that you never know when the clubs meet, but aren’t there announcements about club meeting times at your school? Don’t people put up posters, pass out fliers, or make announcements on Facebook when something is going on? I’m sure there are ways of finding these things out. Another good resource: your high school's advanced placement or honors science teachers. I’m sure they would be happy to help you join a club. And remember, if a club doesn’t exist, start one!
I really like your idea of volunteering at a hospital. Being in a hospital setting early on in your academic career can help you figure out whether you enjoy the atmosphere and the work. Google your local hospital and get in touch with the administrators; they will almost certainly have a volunteer program you can join. Since you mention pediatrics being your area of interest, I would try to get involved with kids at your local hospital—or, better yet, at a children’s hospital, if there is one nearby. You may find that you really enjoy your volunteer experience. If you do, make sure there are several places where you’d consider volunteering or interning near the colleges you're applying to. Volunteering can be extremely rewarding, and shouldn’t be something you give up after high school.
By volunteering our time, we bring joy into the lives of others—and there is no greater feeling than that. There are so many places to lend a helping hand—especially around this time of year. Many local churches operate soup kitchens to feed the needy. You could also volunteer at a local homeless shelter, rake leaves or do other chores for the elderly, visit a nursing home to sing holiday songs, or volunteer at your local humane society. For lots of great ideas, visit one of my favorite websites, Charity Guide.
Think carefully about what kind of experience would benefit you the most, and make it happen. There’s really no excuse not to.