By David West
At the beginning of every school year, the gym is engulfed during the Club Fair by clubs armed with sign-up lists attacking naïve underclassmen. Underclassmen are joining clubs like DECA, HOSA, Robotics, and Model Congress in growing numbers. If you’re truly interested in a certain activity, joining a club is a great way to pursue that passion. However, many students are joining clubs for more unscrupulous reasons: to miss school, to improve their resume, and even to just socialize with their friends. This lack of sincerity is evident upon joining a club where many members don’t seem genuinely interested. These members show up when it’s convenient for them— just enough to call themselves members or to participate in competitions. They often ditch meetings and make excuses, but everyone knows the truth—these students aren’t genuinely interested.
Ideally, students who join clubs should be there for the club itself. However, this is often not the case. On Facebook, a discrepancy between the sizes of school clubs is clearly evident. While clubs like DECA boast over 200 members, equally exciting clubs like the Botany club have only ten members. This difference can be traced to social conformity, which is widespread amongst high school students. Social conformity explains that students, in order to feel accepted, will put aside their own interests to join trendy clubs. Although they play a major role, social pressures aren’t the only cause for the extracurricular situation at South. Many students join clubs with the college application process in mind. As the college application process gets more and more competitive, students often feel inclined to participate in activities that will distinguish them from other applicants. Unfortunately, under pressure, students are hastily joining countless clubs, investing huge amounts of time and money before they even ask themselves whether they are actually interested in the club. This mentality is not only hollow, but also short sighted. Taking up much of a student’s free time, these clubs will prevent a student from discovering his or her true interests, hobbies, and ambitions. Realizing one’s interests and pursuing them is what will truly distinguish a person. In the college application process, extracurricular activities allow students to illustrate their personality, but by joining clubs they don’t genuinely care about, students are misleading both colleges and themselves.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t partake in clubs or activities that you don’t yet know much about. Putting yourself in new situations is exactly how you can discover what you’re good at and what interests you. However, freely participating in activities that you consider boring or senseless is just futile. Find what interests you. If one or a few of the clubs you are participating in now don’t interest you, then find or start a new club or find a suitable activity outside of school. The possibilities are endless.