The bigger picture

Four years of club participation, leadership positions and 100+ volunteer hours later, you’re finally ready to fill out the activities portion of your college application. Some of us have sacrificed much of our time and effort to showcase an elaborate resumé for these colleges. So when the text slots for these club, award and volunteer descriptions give you a limit of 150 characters (approximately 20 words), it seems almost offensive. For many of us, we begin to wonder why these colleges have seemingly overlooked hours of dedication and shortened it into merely 20 words.

The truth is, through all of the sweat and tears of surviving the frustrating college application process, I’m thankful that these colleges taught me something valuable. It’s allowed me to realize that life after high school is much more than just holding officer positions and gaining service hours.
Especially in a highly competitive environment like Walnut, it may be hard to grasp the idea that some of the most meaningful things you could be doing in college have nothing to do with competing with others. College is a place for people to become exposed to new environments and cultivate unique passions, but because of our limited experiences and perspectives in the scope of high school, we tend to exaggerate the impact of our current activities and forget to remind ourselves that there will always be more diverse experiences in the near future. We’re so often focused on our own individual achievements and mistakes that we sometimes fail to recognize the miniscule impact of our actions in the grand scheme of things. While many of us have probably thought that failing a test or receiving a bad grade would be the end of the world, most likely, you’ll end up forgetting about it in college or sometime further down in life. In addition, many high school students are under the impression that doing “more” activities now will benefit them in the future, when in fact, it may hinder one’s performance and weaken their perspective.

Extracurriculars aren’t the only factors that students are disillusioned about; even with coursework, we’re often shadowed by the pressure to overload ourselves. While it is not wrong to challenge yourself, it becomes a problem when the number of Advanced Placement (AP) or honors courses you take exceed your own limitations. We become too caught up in our own greed to realize that advanced courses are meant for a higher level learning experience, not for glamorizing on college applications. After all, the quantity of advanced courses you take now may seem insignificant in college, since most schools require you to retake the same subjects depending on your major or focus.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not condoning laziness, nor am I saying that extracurriculars and volunteering are a waste of time. With enough dedication and diligence, any activity or goal you pursue now may take you a long way. However, common habits such as overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion or becoming overly concerned about insignificant mistakes are not worth the stress and time.

It’s understandable that students will occasionally cry about a difficult test, complain about a heavy workload and even take upon several similar schedules to take the safe route to success. Everyone hopes to succeed, and as a result, look to others as a source of competition and dependence. I’ve been caught in that situation several times myself. But for those of you who feel behind in terms of academics and extracurriculars, don’t worry. Chances are, you might be onto greater things in the next step of your life in college.

By Jessica Huang, Production lead
Editorial cartoon by Natalie Jiang