Applicant #1 (Procrastinating Paul):
9th Grade: Member of Model Congress
10th Grade: Member of Model Congress
11th Grade: Member of Model Congress, Member of Chamber Orchestra (2nd semester), Member of Varsity Track Team (2nd semester)
12th Grade: Member of Model Congress, Member of Chamber Orchestra, Member of Varsity Track Team
Applicant #2 (Ambitious Annie):
9th Grade: Freshman Representative of Model Congress, Member of Math Club, Treasurer of Amnesty International chapter (2nd Semester), Member of JV Track Team
10th Grade: Treasurer of Model Congress, Member of Math Club, Member of Amnesty International Chapter, Captain of JV Track team
11th Grade: Vice President of Model Congress, Member of Varsity Track team
12th Grade: President of Model Congress, Co-Captain of Varsity Track team
Who will bring more to a college – a leader or a follower? Who sounds more impressive?
You’ll notice Procrastinating Paul was only involved in one activity in 9th and 10th grade. Colleges know that to be a member of a club, all you have to do is join an email list and attend a couple of meetings. It wasn’t until the middle of 11th grade that he actually started doing something. It looks like Paul woke up one day and realized colleges want to see applicants with extracurriculars. Unfortunately, it was too late for him to get any leadership positions because students like Ambitious Annie already had a track record of involvement.
Whether leadership positions are determined by student voting or application, whoever does the selecting wants to see someone who’s already demonstrated dedication. After all, if your peers haven’t selected you, why should colleges?
Annie got an early start with extracurriculars at the beginning of high school. Within the first month, she ran for, and won, the position of freshman representative of Model Congress. She was also interested in Amnesty International, so she went to a few meetings but didn’t have time to do much more first semester. However, when the sophomore who held the position of
After a sophomore who held the position of Treasurer became too busy with AP classes to fulfill his responsibilities, Annie stepped up and volunteered to be Treasurer for the rest of the year. At the end of her freshman year, she ended up running for and winning the position of Treasurer of Model Congress for sophomore year. Her track coach picked her to be captain of the JV team, so she decided not to run for treasurer of Amnesty International. However, she stayed on as a member because she’s made some friends in the club.
For 11th grade, Annie won the position of Vice President of Model Congress, so she became too busy to stay in the Math Club or Amnesty International. She maintained her involvement in Varsity Track because she had won a few races and enjoyed it. Her teammates respected her and knew she was dedicated to the team’s success. Given that she’d already served as JV captain in 10th grade, they picked her to be captain of the team for 12th grade.
Annie didn’t let her Model Congress responsibilities slip, though. She attended Model Congress conventions throughout 9, 10, and 11th grades, bringing home several awards. She was voted President for 12th grade, and she became the first Model Congress President to host a convention at her school.
Colleges like to see dedication to a few activities rather than membership in many. It’s okay to be involved in several during 9th and 10th as you figure out what your interests are. However, as time goes on, it’s important to pick a few to stick with, building the relationships and skills necessary to take your involvement to the next level.
–Run for positions as early as possible. Take some initiative and risks.
–Get involved in several activities early to determine your interests (and see where there may be opportunities for leadership).
–Do something new and interesting like organizing a conference or creating a newsletter.
–Prioritize. You won’t be able to stick with every club AND keep your grades up, so pick a few activities as school gets busier in 11th and 12th grade. In 11th grade, you’ll have the SATs and, potentially, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.