Advice Column: How to Manage Your Extracurriculars

Martha Aboagye ‘18

While whining to anyone who would listen about the herculean task before me (namely a history assignment), a 9th grader across the lunch table from me was busy finishing her math homework and consulting fellow classmates about their answers. One of them replied, “We had math homework?” It reminded me of a statement another 9th grader (who wishes to remain anonymous) had made about how she had become an expert at finishing projects 15 minutes before they were due. In her defense, she works best under pressure.

The midterm grades are in, and for many 9th graders at BHSEC (myself included), anything below an “A” was unsatisfactory. Quite frankly, we were the smart kids in our middle schools. Amidst all this confusion and heartbreak, many students are still struggling with managing their extra curricular activities. Many students have rightly identified the importance of extracurriculars in terms of college applications. Once again, I present to you 3 tips endowed with sagacity that is rarely found in a young one such as myself.

  1. Choose activities that actually excite you. Time management is an essential aspect of being a good student, especially in an accelerated program such as the curriculum at BHSEC. As a result, with the constricted time you have, your first-choice after-school activity must be something you find stimulating that does in some way make you happy. Place passion over pressure, and don’t do something just because it looks good on your college application or because your parents or friend want you to do it. It does not even have to have an academic purpose. Joining something you are ardent about can in and of itself make up for the extra time/effort it requires. It can also just give you something to look forward to.
  2. Living without risks is dull and boring. This is a piece of important advice from one of the most brilliant and narcissistic lawyers on television, Harvey Specter. Taking risk is a necessary part of life. Think of extracurricular activities as a way of exploring any potential interests you might have.
  3. Show dedication. The important thing is quality, not quantity. For goodness sake, don’t do go out and join everything there is. College admissions officers are not dummies. High school creates a lot of stress, not even considering the social stress and the hormonal changes. Being in ten different clubs is simply not realistic. Have at least one activity that you are very dedicated to—it is a sign of maturity. It is better to be deeply committed to one activity than superficially involved with multiple. One BHSEC student runs the Wildlife Club, is in the LGBTQ+ club and S.T.A.G.E. and plays Ultimate Frisbee—all afterschool activities, plus WMAC. When asked how he manages to do get any school work done he splendidly remarked, “I finish it pretty quickly.”

Finally, the most overlooked aspect of extracurricular activities but one of the most alluring qualities, is the availability of food. So, on a Tuesday afternoon, when you have tons of homework and are doubting the importance of attending the debate team, a freshman captures the deciding vote quite eloquently. “I just really want to go home, but the debate team has Oreos.”

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