Should you ever quit an extracurricular activity? When you’re a freshman or sophomore and still trying out new experiences, you’ll probably go through many activities before you decide on the ones you’ll stick with throughout high school. Since it may take awhile to find something that’s meaningful to you, you’re likely quit other activities along the way.

 

But what about when you’re an upperclassman? Since you’ve probably invested a fair amount of time and energy into your activities, quitting can be a little more difficult. You also don’t want admissions committees to think you can’t follow through on your commitments or are unable to juggle multiple projects. That might suggest you won’t be able to cope with the demands of a challenging college experience.

 

However, senior year can be particularly stressful, and you may feel overwhelmed with new responsibilities and applying to colleges. (Read more about what you can expect when senior year rolls around in Senior Year of High School Is Here! Now What?) Sometimes, it may feel like you’re overcommitting yourself. How do you decide whether or not you can afford to quit activities, and if you do, which ones you should eliminate?

 

The Activity That Doesn’t Contribute to Your Cohesive Academic Profile

Your academic profile should paint a picture of a well-rounded yet specialized candidate. Specialized means you’ve cultivated a talent in a particular area and built and improved that talent through activities and courses that are aligned with your aspirations. For example, if engineering is your strength, you might participate in math programs and enter robotics competitions, while acing your math and science courses.

 

As a senior, you need to keep the activities that complement the image you’re trying to present to admissions committees. So, for instance, if you’ve built an impressive writing resume, now is not the time to quit your school newspaper. Instead, try eliminating an activity that is less characteristic of your profile. In the writing example, cooking club might be a better activity to remove, assuming you haven’t dedicated as much time and effort to your culinary skills as you have to writing.

 

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The Activity That Doesn’t Have Meaning for You

If you’re not enjoying a particular activity, ask yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. Does it hold meaning for you? Does it make you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile? If so, it’s probably a valuable activity to keep.

 

If you’re doing some kind of volunteer work that helps other people and is aligned with your values, it’s probably a good idea to keep it. On the other hand, if you’re not enjoying it, and it doesn’t feel worthwhile anymore, you may not want to continue it.

 

On the other hand, if you’ve invested three years in the activity and hold a leadership position, it may reflect poorly on you if you quit now. This is the type of activity you should try to eliminate early, before you’ve committed too much effort and time.

 

The Common App will essentially ask you to rank and describe the activities that are most meaningful for you, so if your activity doesn’t seem to register, it may not be right for you. Activities that feel extraneous may be the ones to quit at this point.

 

The New Addition

Starting a new club or activity can sometimes be a good idea, especially if you’re an integral founding member. This shows leadership and dedication, as well innovation thinking.

 

However, if you haven’t made a serious commitment yet, and it feels too overwhelming to continue the activity with everything else you have on your plate, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to quit before you’re too invested.

 

The Activity in Which You’ve Never Held a Leadership Role

You won’t have a leadership role in every activity you do. That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable; participating may still be worthwhile and a valuable addition to your application, assuming you enjoy it and it fits in with your profile.

 

However, activities in which you’re not terribly invested and haven’t held a leadership position are better choices to eliminate over bigger commitments.

 

Quitting Activities: The Takeaway

Ultimately, it’s reasonable to quit activities senior year of high school if you have a rationale for doing so. However, you should try to weed out activities that aren’t adding to your life in a positive way before then—then you be wasting your time on something that’s not adding much. Since you want to show that you’ve committed to some activities, it’s better to spend your time honing and contributing to the activities you do enjoy. Rather than peppering your resume with a bunch of activities in which you’re not that invested, which could signify that you’re spreading yourself too thin, spend your time cultivating a few solid activities.

 

If you do quit an activity your senior year, it’s probably best not to include it on your college application, unless you have an important reason for doing so, such as a medical or family emergency that requires explanation. Instead, devote the space to discussing the activities to which you’ve really committed

 

For more advice on balancing commitments, keeping yourself from getting overwhelmed, and knowing when to quit activities, check out CollegeVine’s posts:

 

Will Quitting an Extracurricular Reflect Poorly on my College Applications?

The Dos and Don’ts of Joining New Extracurriculars Your Senior Year

Managing Extracurriculars: A Guide to Strategic Quitting

How to Effectively Balance Your Time in High School

6 Techniques for Dealing with Stress in High School

 

Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Check out the CollegeVine Mentorship Program. Our mentors drive significant personal and professional development for their high school mentees.

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in publishing. She also writes, dreams of owning a dog, and routinely brags about the health of her orchid.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine