My Extracurriculars in High School — A Real Student’s Story
This article is a first-person account from Robert Crystal, a Yale student and CollegeVine livestreamer and contributor. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- My Experience with Athletics
- Volunteer Work
- Extracurricular Activities in the Arts
- Balancing Everything
My Experience with Athletics
Outside of the classroom, I participated in a bunch of extracurricular activities. I spread myself thin in many ways, but I loved everything that I did, and I’m grateful that I did it. My largest commitment came from the sports that I participated in. I was a varsity runner and letterman on the cross-country team. We were part of the Ivy Preparatory League and the New York State Federation. This was a great experience because I got to be a tri-season competitor in cross-country running, indoor track, and outdoor track and field.
I was a mid- to long-distance runner, which taught me discipline in a way that few other activities could. While now I don’t run nearly as much as I did in high school, I learned life tools that I’ve carried with me ever since. A huge part of my athletics experience was the team camaraderie that I was immersed in as we learned to work with one another to complete our goals. I brought those teamwork skills with me to Yale.
I had the great privilege of learning from so many influential people at my high school. Mentors, older students, and counselors helped guide my path and taught me how to apply myself. Similar to running, what you put in is what you get out. After completing a yearlong training course, I became a peer leader as a senior for incoming first-year students. Starting high school is a nerve-wracking experience, so I was grateful that I could use the knowledge that I gained from my mentors to help freshmen just starting their journeys.
Looking back at my community service involvements, I was lucky that my school had a built-in community service program. It organized events for us every year, like park cleanups, volunteering at soup kitchens, and other types of work. While my school’s offerings were great, I also wanted to apply my interests and seek out more community service opportunities. I taught after-school Latin throughout high school to elementary school students.
Extracurricular Activities in the Arts
I did a great deal of work with publications in high school as a senior editorial board member. As an art and online editor for my school’s newspaper, I got to organize musical performances and social events at coffee houses. I was also an editor and contributing author for my school’s yearly publication of Latin and Greek translation essays and commentary. My work in publication helped me when it came time for college applications, as I was already familiar with writing at a higher level.
My second largest extracurricular was participating in the music and performing arts organizations at my high school. I was a classic choir nerd in high school, singing in my school’s a cappella group, the Collegiate Untouchables. I was the base section leader and song arranger, which was a wonderful experience that exposed me to the brilliance of a cappella music. I would not be able to do a cappella at Yale if I hadn’t been in the high school choir.
I managed to balance my extracurriculars and course load through trial and error, but I wasn’t perfect, of course. There were plenty of late nights in high school when I stretched myself too thin. From those nights, I’ve learned how much I can reasonably balance on my plate, and each year gets easier and easier. To be honest, my days in high school were more stressful than my days now in college. High school is extremely structured, and you are in classes all day long, followed by your extracurriculars, and then you have homework afterward. In college, you have more flexibility to set your own schedule, so time management becomes much easier.