Hot Take: Sometimes it’s Okay Not to Join

The intentions behind students joining a multitude of clubs


 Students are constantly told that it’s important to “join.” This could be about clubs, sports, or anything in between, but at some point, can a student join too many things? Students stretch themselves thin to be a part of so many different opportunities in order to boost their resumes, but they are not always interested in everything they join.

 The number of students in the halls of Summit High School who say “I am stressed” or “I’m overwhelmed,” but also say “I am doing it for college” is problematic. It has become so normalized for students to join clubs around school because “it looks good” instead of because they have a passion for something.

 “In general, it’s frustrating for me to see people doing things just to say they do them instead of perusing interests because they’re passionate and driven by a club,” said Arden Conde, a Summit junior as well as a member of the Social Justice Club, Science National Honors Society and Interact Club.

 Let’s look at one student involved in the Interact Club—one of the most popular clubs here at Summit High School—who made a comment just a few days ago, saying they are only applying for next year’s board for college applications. Though I won’t name names, this is not the only student who has fallen victim to the idealogy of joining a club just for the looks of it.

 Don’t get me wrong if you are deeply invested in a million different things and want to pursue them all, that is great, but the problem comes to play when students don’t care enough about a club that they are meant to put a great deal of time and effort into. 

 Students who decide to take that approach of just joining a club or taking a leadership position in a club may end up putting less time and energy into it because they are just doing it to look good, compared to a student who is passionate about the subject and will work tirelessly to see the success of it.

 When students stretch themselves too thin it could also take away from something that they are genuinely zealous about. Students should be encouraged to join a few clubs that they truly want to be a part of and that they feel they can make a difference in.

 “I think it’s understandable to want a good name for yourself but I think it’s unfortunate that some kids might be setting themselves up for a college lifestyle that they don’t truly enjoy,” commented Conde.

 So why is the idea of joining an abundance of activities such a normalized occurrence at Summit High School?

 College is the next step for many Summit students after graduation and according to Michelle Lou and Brandon Griggs from CNN, the number of students getting accepted into colleges, especially the top schools, is continuing to decline. For students worried about their chances of getting into their top college, a common conception is that the way to get around this constant decline of acceptance rates is to be a part of clubs, and not just one club, but many. Doing well in school is also important—taking AP classes, getting A’s—but extracurriculars are a way to stand out above the rest with impressive GPAs, rigorous course loads and exceptional grades. 

 So with the need to stand out, when it comes to filling out the activities log on the college applications, students want it to be filled to the brink with this and that, but maybe there’s a way to have a full activities log, while not overloading your schedule or maxing out your stress level.

 Lauren Hartrich, a Summit High School junior and a member of the Interact Club, Social Justice Club and Gardening Club, said, “I don’t like [that students join a bunch of clubs just for college] but I understand why [they do it]. I think students should join clubs that match their passion than what would look good on a college app.”

 According to College Board, colleges look for what makes students unique, as many students join miscellaneous clubs and activities, schools may like to see a theme among extracurriculars that stands out. Students who find a passion and stick with it, would not only avoid having their schedules filled with things they don’t care about but could also find ways to make a real difference. They would have more time to focus on their endeavors and could even find something they want to pursue later in life.