Students should strive to participate in extracurriculars earnestly


Midway Staff

Managing Editor Audrey Park argues that students like herself should participate in extracurriculars authentically, and to fight the pressures of doing more just to do more.

Audrey Park, Managing editor

I am a junior in high school and, like my peers, will soon face the college application process. I sometimes find myself pressured to indulge in extracurriculars and activities out of necessity for a future college application, but I ultimately try my best to prioritize the authenticity of my engagement in such extracurriculars. American philosopher John Dewey, who founded Lab once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

High school students should pursue extracurriculars because of genuine interest and attempt to participate in them authentically, thus fighting the ultra competitive, and sometimes toxic, nature of the college application process. 

Especially in a school environment where the importance of a good education is stressed, college is the assumed step following high school. More specifically, a well-perceived and prestigious college has become the desired destination. And as a result, students feel pressured to do whatever whenever they can.  

Colleges encourage students to participate in several extracurriculars. While research conducted by Bill Hiss, former dean of admission at Bates College, suggests grades are considered the most important factor of an individual’s application, as of recently, more and more colleges are test-optional, thus putting more of an emphasis on extracurriculars to stand out. 

According to CBS News, Ivy League acceptance rates were the lowest they have ever been for the 2022 graduating class. In fact, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Cornell are no longer releasing admission figures because they fear the numbers will deter potential applicants from applying. And as the acceptance rates continue to decrease and competition increases, students like myself feel more pressure to participate in more clubs and to fulfill more leadership positions to be distinguished. 

This is frustrating because, of course, quality and dedication to a particular club are supposedly valued over quantity by college admissions, yet what has become attractive about participating in these extracurriculars is less about the element of genuine passion but instead a bridge that will increase one’s chances of getting into a college.  

 I enjoy and am passionate about the number of clubs and leadership roles I am currently involved in, but am fighting against the pressures to do more just to do more.

I will continue, and hope others will too, to fight the pressures inflicted upon myself and those around me, and strive to participate in extracurriculars earnestly with the hope of learning and experiencing, thus exercising what Dewey perceived as the value of education. We must remind ourselves that high school and extracurriculars are about us and our educational gain, and work to prioritize those values authentically.