High School Extracurriculars Are Like Vegetables

One must pursue extracurricular activities — and the right kinds of extracurricular activities — to get into an elite university (photo credit: Jasper Greek Golangco).

It’s the start of the New Year, which means a new turn at trying to stick to resolutions. At Ivy Coach, we wish to propose one such resolution for high school students: eat more of the right types of vegetables. Our local market sells 50+ different types of vegetables by our count. Surely, there’s one that everyone will like. There are in fact likely vegetables you’ve never tried and don’t even realize you’ll absolutely love. A new year brings about the opportunity to take stock of what is in your fridge, and make sure you’re eating healthfully. After all, if you want to continue to be healthy, you need to eat your vegetables!

High School Students Must Eat Vegetables to Become Strong College Applicants

So what are the vegetables of a student’s college admissions process? That’s an easy one: their extracurriculars. Students need to be involved extracurricularly in order to be admitted to highly selective schools. Just like students need top grades in demanding coursework and top scores on standardized testing, extracurricular pursuits are a must. You see, colleges want students who will take advantage of the boundless opportunities available on their campuses. Colleges want students who will get involved with the opportunities that align with their passions, and if such opportunities don’t exist, they want students who have the initiative and drive to create them. If a student hasn’t excelled beyond the classroom during high school, admissions officers will question whether that student will bother when presented with more and better choices on a college campus.

But Not Just Any Vegetables Will Do, It’s About the Right Veggies for College Applicants

But not just any extracurricular pursuit will do: there are right types of extracurriculars and wrong types of extracurriculars. Some people have certain digestion intolerances, finding beets to be too fibrous or asparagus to be too pungent or Brussel sprouts to be too icky. We’re not sure how Brussel sprouts got their bad rap, but it seems so many kids hates them. Some students find themselves too uncoordinated to compete in a sport, too tone-deaf to play in the orchestra, or too pollutant to participate in the recycling club. That doesn’t mean students should avoid extracurriculars entirely — they just need to find the right ones that suit their abilities, interests, and passions.

If Students Don’t Like Kale, Try Spinach

Is being the editor of the school newspaper better than the captain of the debate team? Is a fistful of carrots better than snap peas? Should you help the homeless, the sick, the elderly, the malnourished, the poor, or the bereaved? Students have wide latitude in how they spend their time; students should be spending their time in meaningful ways — in ways that demonstrate their singular passion. Don’t like Model UN? Time to quit and make way for something else! Don’t like National Spanish Honor Society? Adios! Don’t like Key Club? Time to open the door to new possibilities. Like Key Club? Please email us and explain what it is that you do exactly, because we’re still confused.

It’s About the Right Mix of Vegetables for College Applicants to Showcase Unique Hooks

But ultimately, Model UN, National Spanish Honor Society, and Key Club aren’t the types of extracurricular pursuits that help make our students at Ivy Coach stand out. Rather, these are trite activities that too many high school students pursue. A big reason why our students so often earn admission to their dream schools is they’re involved in activities that all reflect a singular passion — a single, often small way in which they hope to change the world as we know it. These activities may not always sound prestigious. Our students don’t compete for slots in fancy summer enrichment programs (yuck!). But they help to tell a narrative. And through that narrative, our students dare admissions officers not to admit them. Admissions officers can’t resist our students’ vegetables.

Ultimately, you have to eat your vegetables, so you might as well pick the ones that you dislike the least and love the most! So long as those vegetables — in combination — will make you stronger.


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