Do I Have Too Many Extracurriculars?
If you’re asking yourself whether or not you have too many extracurriculars, chances are you might have a bit too much on your plate. As a high school student, it’s important to be involved in extracurriculars for a variety of reasons: they can help you develop your character, they are a great place to make friends, they help strengthen your resume, they are important for your college applications—and they can also be a ton of fun!
This being said, there is a limited number of hours in the day. If you’re not sleeping, eating properly, or taking care of yourself, then chances are you’ve taken on too much—and something’s got to give. Read this post for advice on managing your time when you’re participating in multiple extracurriculars.
So why should you participate in extracurriculars in the first place? For one thing, they’re a great opportunity to make friends and be involved with your school’s community. They can also help you learn how to network, and depending on who is involved with the club, they could help you get to know your teachers and other professionals in your community.
Extracurricular activities also help you build your character. Devoting your valuable time to a club or activity after school can teach you how to be responsible, how to manage your time, even how to grow your leadership skills.
ECs are also extremely important for college applications. The activities that you choose to participate in will show schools what kind of person you are. Your ECs demonstrate how you spend to choose your time, and they tell admissions committees what kinds of issues are important to you. Your participation in ECs also shows AdComs that you’d be an active participant in the campus community, which is something that most schools deem to be very important.
How Many is the Right Amount?
How many extracurriculars you’re able to participate in fully depends on you and your schedule, as well as the level of commitment that each activity requires.
Some students are only able to fit 1 or 2 high-demand activities into their schedules (like marching band for instance, which often requires practices several times a week, and might also requires that students attend competitions and events on the weekends). Maybe your priority is to be a part of the school football team, which might require that students attend practice before and after school 5 times per week.
Some commitments are seasonal, meaning that the level of commitment will fluctuate depending on what time of year it is. This might leave with the opportunity to take on more activities once their workload lets up (marching band, for example, might only be demanding in the fall because of football season, or maybe the school literary magazine is the most demanding in the spring, when its print edition is published).
When picking your extracurriculars and planning your schedule, be sure to keep in mind that you may have many other commitments as well—like preparing for the SAT/ACTs, work, family responsibilities, athletics, studying, or volunteering.
How Many is too Many?
Again, the amount and level of commitment that you’re able to take on with your extracurriculars is completely individual and depends on your schedule.
If you are getting sick or constantly feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, however, then this may be a sign that it’s time to start dialing back your extracurricular activities. To figure out where you might be able to cut yourself some slack, try making a weekly schedule to see exactly how much time you have available in your week. Mark down the amount of your time that is taken up by responsibilities, and then see how much time you have left for yourself.
In general, spreading yourself too thin will only end up creating more problems for you. You might end up getting seriously ill or burning out before you even get to college. It is important to learn your limits and learn how to practice self-care early on. This skill will be especially useful to you in college, when the demands and responsibilities placed on you might be even stronger! No matter what, it is always important to keep things in perspective and learn how to put your health and your well-being first.
In thinking about which extracurriculars you’d like to drop and which ones you’d like to keep, consider taking a moment to prioritize.
Which of your extracurricular activities align the most with your future goals? If your dream job is to work in publishing, you might want to prioritize working at the school newspaper or the literary magazine, and it might be ok to take a break from the Chess Club.
Think about whether or not you can condense your activities. Maybe you love participating in both the Chess Club and the Crossword Lovers Club—so what if you combined the two to create a strategic games club?
Think about which activities will allow you to demonstrate your character and grow your leadership skills. Maybe a board position opened up at the Yearbook Committee, but it might mean you have to step down from the Prom Com. Whatever you do, just make sure you’re considering your own interests and well-being—as this will benefit you the most in the long run.
The Bottom Line
It’s always good to have lots of interests and activities, but there comes a point when enough is enough. Not only is it a bad idea to spread yourself too thin, but it will also be worse for you in the long run. This is especially true in high school, when your grades and SAT scores matter a lot. It’s wonderful to be ambitious and to want to do lots of different things, but remember that high-school is a marathon, not a sprint.
In figuring out which ECs you should keep and which you should drop, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself some bigger questions. Consider asking yourself which activities are your priority—and why? What is it that draws you to these activities? And which ones make the most sense to participate in considering who you are?
No matter what, always be sure to put self-care first—after all, there is no point in taking on lots of different obligations if you’re not enjoying yourself and experiencing personal growth as you do this work.
For more tips on managing your time, take a moment to check out these blog posts:
Want more tips on improving your academic profile?
We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.