Where is your focus? One of the most common themes when listening to Admissions office presentations when I visit colleges is about the level of activities. They bemoan that so many parents fuel the myth that there is a magical activity "checklist" that all colleges seek. SO...NOT....TRUE. Here are 3 main tips to choose activities:
1) GO DEEP...OR START OVER : Evaluate your activities once a year in high school and decide what do you really still enjoy? If that club you joined in freshman year is not that interesting anymore and you don't care about that topic (or the group!), LEAVE. Try something new! There are no extra points for staying in an activity through graduation if you do NOTHING with it (like go beyond just attending meetings). This is the time to explore your interests!
2) QUALITY....NOT QUANTITY: Again, there is no magic checklist. No, colleges don't have to see you volunteering, joining clubs, playing sports, AND maintaining a 4.5 GPA in order to gain admissions. What they do look for? What did you do on your own to explore what you like - it can be clubs at school, hobbies on your own, or groups outside of school. Get creative!
3) FIND YOUR VOICE: Give yourself time to just think....or journal...or read. Don't run from activity to activity trying to keep up with 'everyone else'. This is your time to hear your own voice. When a student really knows what makes them tick, the college search becomes so much easier. Do you like to be outdoors? Do you love to explore art galleries? Take yourself out of your '5 square miles' of your known community and go find adventures!
Don't believe me? OK fine....I don't take it personally. Here's the University of Virginia's Admissions blog (hot tip: university admissions blogs are great ways to learn about a college's culture). Choose, change and explore - have a great new school year!