Featured image from cleveland.com
What if the actual process of applying to college was considered an extracurricular? It can feel as grueling as a sport; sometimes there’s as much solidarity as in a club. And it is definitely an out-of-class activity that teaches lessons, demands your effort, and develops your skills.
So if applying to college was an extracurricular you could put on your application for college, what could you say about it? (I realize this seems a little redundant, but so does going to four years of school so you can go to four more years of school.)
The first thing you might consider is whether to include “Being A College Applicant” as a sport or a club.
Honor Society: Technically, “Being A College Applicant” could qualify as an honor society, because just like you worked hard on your grades and your involvement to get into whatever honor societies you may be a member of, you worked hard to make yourself an attractive college applicant.
Being a college applicant isn’t necessarily an exclusive club by any means, or even a particularly honorable one. At least, it’s not treated that way. But maybe it should be. It doesn’t happen for everyone; it is an extremely personal and impressive experience. You should feel proud to be part of that “club.”
Varsity Sport – “Being A College Applicant” can feel as strenuous as participating in a varsity sport. You may not have daily practices or games, but you have a season, just like a sport does, and a final proving ground for all of your efforts like a district basketball game.
In fact, applying to college can almost feel like a tournament. You have to go through various rounds of elimination. Make it to senior year. Get desired scores on standardized tests. Complete a slew of APs. Not buckle under stress. The usual.
The only difference is, unless you’re a valedictorian or a class president (and sometimes even then), you don’t really get any medals or trophies or recognition for just getting through college and collecting an impressive array of accomplishments. It can feel thankless; the reward comes much later in this “sport.”
Chess Club (or similar) – Sometimes, the college application process can make you feel like a member of one of those underfunded, under-appreciated, frequently-mocked-in-stereotypical-high-school-movies clubs, like Chess Club or the AV Club or Birdwatching Club.
It doesn’t always make a ton of sense. I mean, this (whether it’s chess club or applying to college) is ideally something you’re passionate about, something you want to be involved in both for present enjoyment and future experience.
But sometimes it can feel like society or circumstances make things difficult. Whether it’s a stigma around chess club, or the universal and at times overwhelming stress involved in the college application process, it seems like people should have outgrown these mental habits by now.
The good news is, even if society as a whole doesn’t outgrow their paradigms and practices, you only have to deal with it for a year and then you can outgrow it yourself. And join your college’s chess club instead.
The next thing you might be worried about is how to sell your “extracurricular” as a valuable contribution that will help you contribute to your college’s campus and community.
Jeez, where do you begin?
Applying to college is often overlooked as evidence of personal qualities because everyone does it, but I think that’s precisely why it should be a bigger deal. Everyone has a personality, but that doesn’t mean your individual personality isn’t an important part of how people evaluate you.
Everyone applies to college, so finding ways to be unique requires a lot from people that they might not otherwise have found in themselves.
First, you have to be honest with yourself. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses and how to highlight them to greatest effect. You have to know what you want and how to articulate it. Above all, you have to be honest about yourself, about where you think you belong, and what you want to do with your life. (That’s a little more pressure than winning the big game.)
Second, you have to be confident. Not in an arrogant way (see previous paragraph), just in a way that enables you to go after what you want with the courage and foresight to see your efforts through and give yourself a good shot of getting what you want.
Third, you have to be creative. Not only in the elements of yourself that you choose to make yourself stand out, but in the way you organize and express them. You have to look for opportunities everywhere, in your diction, your past, your favorite colors.
How can you use the random elements of your life and personality to make obscure admissions people interested in your future? College admissions sounds a little Hunger-Gamesy when you think about it like that (or when you think about it at all).
Finally, you have to be genuine. This should go without saying, but it’s harder than it sounds sometimes. You have to really look back on your life and think about the things you’ve done and why you did them. You’ll need to think about your intentions and your motivations, and think about how those personal concerns have made you the person you are today.
You have to think about how, at your college of choice, they will continue to do so.
Honestly, just being a college applicant should probably qualify you to be something more than a college student. Maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but maybe not. After all, the end goal of being a college applicant isn’t to get into college, but to get through college and out into the world.
So maybe being a college applicant isn’t not considered an extracurricular because it would be superfluous to do so; maybe it just deserves a higher distinction than that.
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