2021 Extracurricular Activities: Choose Wisely

Highschoolers - we've heard you speak! With nearly everyone in the country required to shelter in place & practice social distancing, the landscape of opportunities has changed dramatically. It'd be wise to imagine what your professional vision looks like & whether or not it will still have value in five, ten, twenty years or more.

Many of you will end up working from home in several years - how do you think that will look? We have some tips for thinking about your extracurricular decisions.

Remember, you're still in high school, and while college applications make every little thing feel urgent and heavy, how you commit your time is NOT SOMETHING TO RUSH IN TO. The big question we've been hearing over and over again:

What extracurricular activities will make my application stand out?

This is a loaded question that will be different for everyone; we can, however, give some universally relevant advice. 7EDU's founder will be hosting a live webinar this Saturday to answer this and any related questions. Sign up at http://tiny.cc/7EDU718FB

So how do you pick an extracurricular project? Given the world's uncertainties being at an all time high, the traditional extracurricular activities like playing team sports won't stand out in particular. While there are plenty of students working to battle the spread of COVID-19 or providing services to members of the community who can't go out, not everyone is expected to be a hero. It is heartwarming to see students selflessly responding to society's needs, and their actions and teamwork demonstrate great social values as an extracurricular, as you will see on Saturday from our featured student project.

Nonetheless, you don't NEED to be 3D printing useful objects to stand out in your extracurricular section. The opportunities are always changing, and there are countless ways to choose an excellent extracurricular project.

There's probably no better time than now to EXPLORE WHAT INTERESTS YOU PERSONALLY. It seems like everybody is up to something, but if you look closely, many of these activities are just busy activities that carry little value in the grand scheme of their personal or professional vision for their future. Sure, it might look good on the college application - but college isn't the end all be all.

Be wary of signing up for leadership events, community service clubs, or any kind of significant time commitment that may seem a good choice. Keep these pointers in mind while doing your research.

1. If your time is spent on somebody else's vision & passion with no relation to your own.

Be wary of predatory companies & organizations that take advantage of ambitious young students.

2. If your position is expendable and your contributions are insignificant.

Being the leader of a club doesn't equate to a sincere & ambitious use of time; its not the position, its what you do in the position. If everything you're doing will be gone with the wind after graduation - why do it at all?

3. If the primary reason for doing so is to impress admissions officers.

The truth is you don't know what your specific admissions committee will be looking for. Especially given the implications of the Care Counts in Crisis Letter signed by 315 deans, the nature of how 2020 admissions will be evaluated is more unclear than ever. With "Self Care" and "Family Contributions" now being considered as important aspects of your college application, its impossible to know what extracurricular activities matter most to admissions offices.

4. If you don't even know where to begin. In this case, you're in the right place - KEEP ON EXPLORING YOUR OPPORTUNITIES!

Summer break is the perfect time to figure out what you want to try & why. Keep on searching & trying out activities that intrigue you the most (without hastily making a tremendous time commitment). Everyone's got their own interests, skills, talents, values and needs, and finding activities to meet those unique traits can be a lifelong journey.

Soon, you will be graduating & how you spend your time will change in many ways; if what you're doing has no relevance to your future, we recommend reconsidering your use of time.

Consider two 4.0 students from the same school both applying as a Computer Science major; the girl who has been building applications and programs and has contributed to open source projects on Github for the past two years vs. the other girl who is the ASB president, basketball team captain, and a math tutor - with all other things equal, which applicant do you think the admissions committees would pick first?

So before we recommend any particular activity over any other, remember - this is your journey and however you choose to spend your time is an investment in yourself. Spending thousands of hours improving your Fortnite skills might make you a career - but is it the best use of your time? Most likely not.

Some have built entire careers based on their competitive gaming abilities. Others have built business models from creating Youtube content, from modeling and endorsing products on Instagram, or from teaching online classes (wink wink). What's the point here? The point is - there are an INFINITE number of ways to spend your time. Especially as you shelter in place, adapting to the world's changes is one of the most valuable abilities - so decide as if your life depends on it - because it does.

Ask yourself these questions before making any commitment:

  1. Am I doing this because I genuinely want to, or because I think it will make me look good? Find something that fits both - you'll be happier and more productive, guaranteed.

  2. Is the activity something that is contributing to my personal vision/goals? If not... what activity would?

  3. How will my work be valued? Is this something that brings tangible value to myself & to others, or is my position expendable and unnecessary? Do something that your future self will thank you for, not regret.

  4. Is my primary reason for doing this for college acceptance, or is it rather a stepping stone on the path to my future career? College itself is a stepping stone for your long-term professional vision - if you're aiming to become a doctor, but have spent no time in scientific or medical activities, its probably time to either reevaluate your career goal or your choice of extracurricular activity.

  5. Does this activity matter? You need to know what matters - by your own definition - and what doesn't. It's not about whether it matters to admissions committees, but to the development of your skills and your character. Don't waste time on activities that don't matter to you - whatever "matters" means to you - or you'll look back and think, "Why did I waste all my time on that?"

  6. Why am I doing this? When you find the right activity(s), this answer will come easy to you with no script or pitch to express your reasons for doing these things. This is where you want to be. In the words of the German 19th Century philosopher Friedrich Nietzche:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Friedrich Nietzche -

These aren't easy questions, but you're not choosing the easy route. You are going to college for a reason. Articulate those reasons & you'll know whether you're in the right - or wrong - place.

Consider the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which translates to a reason for being. An optimal blend of the four variables, Skills, Needs, Love, & Money - serves as a powerful formula for making life decisions. Ikigai is a personal reminder of one's personal goals, skills, and reason for waking up in the morning. Tim Tamashiro's Ted Talk does a splendid job of explaining How to Ikigai.

Use Ikigai as a guideline for planning your unique vision. Everybody's choices are going to be different, so the main point here is to think critically of your decisions and how they fit in the grand scheme of your life. Some advice:

  • If you're going into pre-med, try to contact professionals in the field or students in the major, and ask what advice they would give you - they may even provide an opportunity upon contact.

  • If you want to be a Computer Science major, the online community of coders is tremendous. Furthermore, as long as you have a .edu email address, you can access the Github Student Developer Pack - a compilation of advanced, real-world tools free for any student. You can even claim a 1 year free subscription to Canva's Pro services if design is your hobby.

  • Don't rush into things. Go over the question list above, consider your Ikigai, and be picky - you are young and have an abundance of opportunities in front of you - so keep an open mind and explore further! It's not going to be easy to find the ideal choice, but you don't want to take the easy route. The harder & more professionally relevant your extracurricular activity, the more you will stand out in your application.

On a final note, we will be hosting a live webinar this Saturday 7/18/20 at 6:00pm PDT to really get deep into the topic of Developing Unique Extracurricular Projects in 2020. We will show you an example of four students like yourself who have teamed up and formed an inspiring, community-oriented organization. We will discuss other extracurricular examples, especially of young entrepreneurs, and 7EDU's founder Jun Liu will be answering audience questions at the end.

Our recording from GENCare's wonderful presentation & interview can now be seen on Youtube. Subscribe for more Open Class Recordings!

Easing Frustrations On Online Learning Management: Open to all students, parents, & friends!

Register for your Zoom invitation at: http://tiny.cc/7EDU725FB

This Saturday (7/25/20) evening at 6:00pm PDT, we'll be hosting our live weekly Open Class via Zoom - this time, to give our best advice on empowering young (K-8) students in their workspace.

This weekend will be dedicated to the younger generation, those between Kindergarten and the 8th grade - a critical time to lock in strong foundational habits and practice good learning management skills. We have learned a lot over the past 5 years of focusing heavily on improving the quality of our remote learning experience for each and every student. Each individual student is different and will have unique needs; however, there are universal principles that apply to all students, everywhere, as we will break down for you this coming Saturday night.

Mark your calendars📆! This will be a highly informative, relevant class for adapting to the world of virtual classrooms efficiently & effectively. We will bring our best advice & answer questions at the end.

Part 2 of Easing the Frustrations of Online Learning Management will focus on more advanced principles & success strategies for HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. Sign up for our newsletter to get your invitation at https://www.7edu.online/newsletter-sign-up

Leave comments below about special topics you'd like covered! 🙋💚

2021 Extracurricular Activities: Choose Wisely
7EDU Impact Academy 7 July, 2021
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