Finding balance between extracurriculars and life itself


photo via The Swaddle

Ahh, fall. The sound of leaves crunching under feet, the taste of pumpkin on tongues and the feel of brisk air against faces. For seniors, unfortunately, the season brings inevitable stress, and for one very, very specific reason: early action college decisions.


What makes a college application successful? Throughout their high school careers, students are constantly pushed to excel. They strive to achieve the best grades, score highest on standardized tests and participate in activities which allow them to shine.


Being told our entire lives ride on which undergraduate programs accept us is a prominent source of stress. I can’t count the amount of nights on which I’ve only gotten four hours of sleep, repeating the mantra that it will all be worth it after acing the test tomorrow. 


Notably, some of the most prioritized activities affecting our daily quality of life are extracurricular. It’s drilled into our heads from a young age that colleges like applicants who not only excel academically in a curriculum as rigorous as Hoban’s, but also devote time from our busy schedules to teams and clubs in an attempt to become well-rounded individuals. 


According to, “forty-two percent of school aged children were involved in sports, 30 percent were involved in lessons, and 28 percent were involved in clubs.” 


Organized clubs can lead to increased levels of school engagement, development of friendships based on mutual interests, organizational mastery and a sense of self-sufficiency. Students who maintain a busy social calendar must also cultivate time-management skills.


Extracurricular activities may offer numerous benefits, but do they truly outweigh the costs? 


Involvement in multiple out-of-school activities can dominate the lives of families. They’ll have less quality time to spend together, leading to a feeling of disconnect within the household. Parents also often sacrifice their time and wealth to ensure their children are able to maintain overloaded schedules. In a household with more than one kid, satisfying everyone is often a seemingly impossible task.


Students push themselves to the brink of exhaustion, longing for sleep and nurturing caffeine addictions, all for one purpose: getting into a “good” school. Is it truly worth it? 


While extracurriculars are a factor deemed important to an application, they are only a portion. If the sheer number of after-school pastimes a student participates in equates to a drop in grades, colleges will notice. Participate in as many activities as you want, but make sure you are passionate about them. Those which are nothing but resume-builders will not impress the school of your dreams, so maintain a balance which leaves you happy and healthy.