Extracurricular Activities: How much is too much?

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At Townsend Harris High School, there are several extracurricular opportunities for students to get involved in. With over 40 clubs, students find it difficult to narrow down their choices to the recommended two club credits. Many students pick up additional commitments in order to appeal to college admission boards, but some worry that too many commitments pose a hindrance in the overall extracurricular experience.

Junior Alexis Sarabia spends most of her time afterschool competing on sports teams. Although an active member of the swim team and wrestling team, Alexis recognizes that her passion for sports are secondary to her desire for colleges to recognize her participation. She noted, “I’ve been swimming for most of my life and already have college scouts keeping an eye on me…I’ve also done a lot for both of my teams in terms of competing, and most of my volunteer work revolves around sports. Sports are what keep me motivated to aim for scholarships.”

Like Alexis, junior Genova Brown is committed to many clubs. But rather than putting a lot of time into each individual club, she believes, “it’s better to be in multiple clubs without having a big part in them.” She discourages pursuing leadership roles because then she has “more time to enjoy different clubs without stress.”

Sophomore Leah Mushayev says that extensive extracurricular commitments often cause her to get home late. Despite the huge workload that awaits her at home, Leah believes extracurriculars are still “worth it.” But in regards to joining multiple clubs for the sake of college apps, she commented, “I don’t do it for college, I do it for me.”

Senior Nadia Khan attributes her involvement in several school productions to her love of socialization. By increasing her number of extracurricular activities, it “opens new doors to different opportunities and personalities.”  She feels that “college shouldn’t dictate your life. If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, then don’t do it.”

Biology teacher and COSA Sarah Oberlander recalled her own experience with extracurricular activities as a Harrisite: “Every club sounded so great and so interesting, I wanted to be a part of it, and I wanted to contribute to it,” she recalled.

She added, “But, realistically, you can’t do that, and if you try and do that, you’re not going to wind up contributing a lot to each club, and it’s not as fulfilling. I think it’s good to try a lot [of clubs] in the beginning, whet your palette, find out what you like, but don’t go into it thinking ‘I am going to keep all these things on my plate.’ Figure out which are the ones you want to donate your time to, and really give it your all.”

Regardless of the extent of participation, Ms. Oberlander believes clubs can have a tremendous impact on a student’s day. “Some students are very hesitant to try anything,” she explained, “and we really want to reach out to those students and help them find their niche or their passion.”