How will creating this club benefit myself and the school community? Am I just creating this club for the college applications or do I have a greater purpose, such as helping others and promoting interests and hobbies? These are all questions that a person must ask themselves before forming a school club. Here at Walnut, where many students are constantly striving for admittance into top-tier colleges, we sometimes tend to neglect the true purpose of a club. Instead, we focus on superficial and extrinsic goals such as embellishing an application for the sake of appearing well-rounded.
However, what is the purpose of a club? School clubs provide an opportunity for students to network with others and bond over an interest that they might share. Oftentimes, students can explore their talents and learn more about themselves and the people around them, developing critical social and practical skills in the process. Clubs can also foster important qualities in a way that might not easily be learned in academics, such as creativity, teamwork and confidence among others. These skills extend well beyond college life and can be applied in many areas, such as future jobs and interviews.
So while having a plethora of clubs in one’s college application might make the application seem more extravagant, it defeats the whole purpose of clubs in the first place, which is to improve oneself and to learn. What good does it do to a person in the long term if he or she just creates clubs for officer positions? It doesn’t reflect their passions or who they are, and more importantly, they will not learn any practical skills for the future. The whole point of college is to prepare us for the real world and to develop our characters and minds to be contributing members of society, which makes the idea of “forming clubs” for the sake of padding out an application seem pointless if one is not going to be passionate and committed to the club. Not to mention that we also have a moral obligation to reflect our own desires and interests in our applications, showing colleges our authentic self.
In addition, one should be motivated intrinsically rather than extrinsically. I have nothing against people forming clubs in order to better the school, whether by promoting a passion for a hobby or by getting people involved in learning. However, my problem lies in people who create clubs for the position of president in order to seem more “well-rounded” in a college resume. Instead of being motivated by getting into the college of one’s choice, a more important incentive and goal is to develop habits and skills that will be useful to not just society but to oneself. One should be motivated to learn, to help others and to explore their interests in clubs. When one is intrinsically motivated by these factors, he or she will put in more effort into his or her work and will reap greater benefits as a result. Likewise, when one is extrinsically motivated by factors such as wanting to get into an elite college, he or she is more inclined to give up once that goal is met (such as when he or she gets into college). While extrinsic motivators may suffice temporarily, in the end, intrinsic motivators are more beneficial in the long term.
However, if under the right intentions, what can forming clubs and being involved in them show colleges? All colleges look to see that students are active, contributing members of society. They want to see students with leadership abilities, passion and talents that can influence the community in a positive way. Clubs allow colleges to understand the identity of a person in a way that test scores and grades cannot show. Therefore, colleges are not looking for people who randomly create clubs with no interest in bettering the community. According to Standard University, colleges want “to understand the impact you have had at your job, in your family, in a club, in your school, or in the larger community, and…the impact that experience has had on you.” Other universities look for the character traits that can be reflected in clubs, such as Harvard University, which states that “activities you undertake need not be exotic but rather might show a commitment to excellence regardless of the activity. Such a commitment can apply to any activity in your life and may reflect underlying character and personal qualities.” Even colleges understand the bigger meaning and purpose behind a club and the real reasons for creating or joining them. Clubs should be outlets for a person to develop his or her character and passions.
While there is no way of stopping people from creating clubs for the sake of college applications, I strongly urge those people to examine the more important priorities in life and how college applications are not everything. Developing social skills, helping others, honing leadership skills — these are all things that should be focused on instead. Ultimately, clubs should not only be there to decorate one’s application but should demonstrate one’s character and commitment.
By Raymond Dunn, Arts editor
Editorial Cartoon by Joy Wang