JRiedenPicThroughout high school, I prided myself on my long list of extracurricular activities. I was involved in several organizations for the sole purpose of putting them on my resume: From Spanish Honor Society to a recycling club I barely participated in, I was convinced that racking up these memberships and leadership positions would help me get into a better college. These commitments, though, took hours of dedication, and I’m not sure how much I actually got out of them.

This is definitely not to say extracurricular activities aren’t worthwhile. On the contrary, some of my most worthwhile and favorite high school memories are with my cross-country team or with Best Buddies, an organization with which I was treasurer and heavily involved for three years. I am saying that extracurricular activities that are solely for your resume, whether it’s to bulk up a college application or for the job search after college, don’t contribute as much to your personal growth and will likely just add more stress to your already bustling life.

School subject foldersHere are three ways to get involved with activities for you, not your resume:

  1. Find a few activities you’re interested in: Personally, I joined several honor societies in subjects I didn’t have much interest in just because I thought it would look good on my applications. These societies required subject-related service hours, and I found myself stressing over how to fulfill these requirements. For English Honor Society, I spent six hours stocking books at a local library. While this was probably helpful for the librarians, I remember dreading the activity and being restless during my shifts.As I mentioned, I was involved in Best Buddies, an organization that promotes one-to-one friendships with students with physical and intellectual disabilities. I looked forward to our meetings each week and was genuinely excited to hang out with my buddy. My enthusiasm made all the difference in my experience – my involvement definitely shaped my high school experience regarding the people I met and skills I gained, and I’m still involved with Best Buddies at my university.
  1. If it didn’t go on your resume, would you still do it? I would have answered, “Yes!” to this question for very few of my high school activities. In college, however, I participate in a few clubs that don’t even make it on my resume. This is reaffirming to me: I can dedicate time to something and not feel like I have to prove it to someone through a piece of paper.
  1. Know when to say no: If it’s not adding value to your life, give it the boot. Know when to say no to something so that you don’t overload your schedule, and also know when to reduce your hours dedicated to an involvement or quit completely. This can be hard to do, but if you feel like an activity is adding more stress to your life than value, it’s not worth it.