Freshman year of highschool is scary. It’s a tumultuous time and a transition from what feels like a more easygoing attitude in middle school to a sense of sudden seriousness when words like “college” and “the future” are brought up in conversation. Freshman year marks not only the beginning of your highschool journey, but also an introspective one. Not everyone knows what they want for their future in the first year of highschool, but having a general idea can give you an advantage your senior self will be grateful for. To give you a better idea of what I mean, let’s take a look at an example.
Spongebob is in his first year of highschool and he’s intimidated, but excited to begin a new journey. He’s not sure what his major will be in college, but he does know that he can name a few of his hobbies/interests: cooking, jellyfishing, and going on adventures. From these interests alone, Spongebob knows he enjoys science and interacting with others outside the classroom. When the club fair arrives, Spongebob decides to sign up for the Science Olympiad and Greenhouse Club. The most important thing to understand when it comes to picking after-school activities is quality over quantity. Don’t pick five clubs to be a passive member of, but choose two to three that you know you can make an impact in. You can demonstrate your passion for these clubs through leadership positions—use networking skills to increase your chances—-or even competing. It’s also important to remain consistent and try to be in a school club for at least 3-4 years, so that you can build a reputation as an important contributor.
By the time it’s junior year, Spongebob has become the President of Greenhouse club and won second place in a Science Olympiad competition. He’s still unsure of what path he will pursue in college, but he’s interested in taking part in activities outside of school like volunteering at the Bikini Bottom Community Garden. Finding extracurriculars (ECs) in your community is easier than you think and can add more dimension to your activities list. This can include ECs like volunteering, getting a summer job, starting a tutoring program, or even creating your own business with your friends. The earlier you do this the better! Oftentimes, students will realize this too late and start “non-profits” in their senior year in an attempt to compensate, but admission officers will see right through this!
Now it’s Spongebob’s senior year and his extracurriculars are Greenhouse Club, Science Olympiad, volunteering at the garden, and working at Crabby Patty. He’s realized he has a love for jellyfish and wants to study them further as a marine biologist, but how can he use his extracurriculars to form a cohesive narrative?
Greenhouse Club - Team work, studying new plants = greater appreciation for science, research and working in a lab gave experience.
Science Olympiad - Enjoys competing and learning from others, works well in stressful environments.
Garden volunteering - Teamwork and importance of patience, planning ahead.
Crabby Patty job - Communicating with people of different backgrounds.
By attaching skills and qualities to his activities, Spongebob can match these to what the major of marine biology requires. Not only does this sound genuine, but it highlights his nuanced passion for the field and how he came to discover it through simple school activities.