Choosing Your Extracurricular Activities

If you're an incoming high school freshman, you might be surprised by how many more clubs and extracurricular activities there are to choose from than there were in junior high.  Depending on the size of your high school, you might find some of the following clubs to consider (and no doubt any school with offer some of them, and some schools will have a whole lot more):
  • Academic teams
  • Art Club
  • Color Guard
  • Dance Club
  • Drama Club/Stage Crew
  • Film Club
  • Latin (or Spanish, Japanese, or other foreign language) Club
  • Literary (or Creative Writing) Club
  • Peer Mediation
  • School Newspaper/Yearbook Staff
  • School Spirit Club
  • Science Club
  • Speech and Debate Team
  • Technology Club

Larger schools may also have lifestyle-related clubs you can join (such as a diversity club, gay-lesbian alliance, peace center, prayer circle, or a chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving). Depending on what part of the country you live in, your high school might have various clubs related to outdoor activities, such as a rock-climbing club, ski club, crew (rowing) club, surfing, or hiking.

Pick one or two clubs that interest you and attend a meeting. It's a great way to meet other students and teachers (the clubs' advisors) who share similar interests. You'll also learn a lot from club participation, both from working on projects with other (and sometimes more experienced) students and from personal attention and mentoring by the club's advisor. Just choose the clubs that interest you the most. Avoid the urge to join too many things; if you sign up for everything that sparks a mild interest, you might find yourself attending too many meetings to see your other friends or keep up with schoolwork.

Some students mistakenly think that joining every club they lay eyes on will make them appear "involved" on college applications. Don't do it. First, you're not serving anyone — including yourself — if you make yourself too busy to actually participate in any of the clubs you belong to. Second, if you join a club solely to make yourself seem appealing but then never attend a meeting, don't expect that club's teacher/advisor to write a very good reference for your college application — even if you do well in her classes. And third, your plan might backfire — what if the college admissions officers think you're interests are so scattered that you're not focused?

As a freshman, there might be limits on which (or how many) clubs you can join — this isn't discrimination against freshmen. Many school administrations place limits on freshmen extracurriculars so you'll have time to settle in to high school, acclimate to the bigger building, and adjust to the more challenging academic workload. You'll have plenty of time over the next three years to explore other interests.