For the average person, life revolves around the future. We are constantly speculating about what’s coming next, consumed by our impending destinies. For a high school student, this often means thinking about college; it’s the inescapable next step, and so much of our lives are absorbed by it. From GPAs to sports to clubs, the college application process demands a great deal from students, and it is typical for teens to overwork themselves in the hopes of getting into a prestigious school. The desire for extracurriculars in college admissions has prompted many students to create clubs for the wrong reasons, and this has contributed to the creation of a system of values based on rewards and self-interest.
At Berkeley High School (BHS), there are over 80 clubs, and the number grows every year. The projected goals of these clubs are usually philanthropic, but oftentimes the motivation behind them isn’t entirely authentic.
With colleges demanding more and more in their admissions, students rush into creating clubs just to put them on their applications. The effect of this is tangible; an impactful club takes a lot of work, and that work needs passion behind it. Club leaders need to be passionate about their club’s purpose, because they’re responsible for propelling the club towards its goals. When that passion isn’t there, there are consequences. Not only will the club be ineffective, but the idea of doing something philanthropic just to list it on one’s college applications enforces a skewed system of values.
Colleges are teaching teenagers that it’s not the passion or motivation behind their actions that matter, but how much they can fill up their application. This lesson is one that can persist through life, perpetuated in all areas of society and culture. For example, too often do we see politicians, celebrities, and other role models using “charitable actions” to boost their social standings.
High school encompasses some of our most formative years. The habits and psychological lessons we learn stay with us for the rest of our lives, helping to construct our conscience, beliefs, and values. Teenagers are being encouraged to participate in this self-involved system and it’s going to stick with us for the rest of our lives. College is meant to be a place for positive transformation and that idea should be maintained in the application processes as well. However, it’s not just up to the colleges; high school students can create a cultural shift in the school system. We must stop measuring our lives by what we put on our applications. We must make a conscious decision to stick with what we’re actually interested in and not force ourselves into things just so we can write about them later. Creating a club isn’t worth it unless we’re motivated by genuine enthusiasm and interest. High school is meant for exploration and discovering what we love, let’s not lose those feelings in our quests for a particular future.