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Spreading too thin

Konopelko urges students to find passion in one or two extracurriculars

Freshman+Emma+Fischer+scrambles+to+finish+her+homework+before+the+clock+strikes+midnight.+
Freshman Emma Fischer scrambles to finish her homework before the clock strikes midnight.

Freshman Emma Fischer scrambles to finish her homework before the clock strikes midnight.

Photo by: Nicole Konopelko

Photo by: Nicole Konopelko

Freshman Emma Fischer scrambles to finish her homework before the clock strikes midnight.

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As the bell rings, I run out of school with my textbooks slipping out of my hands, my tennis bag strap burning my shoulders and my flute case handle sliding off my fingertips.

My friend suddenly stops me and says, “Don’t forget about that biology worksheet due tomorrow.”

My heart starts racing. What worksheet? I can’t remember one. And besides, there’s no way I can do it. I have tennis practice until 6:00 and debate work night afterward.

Although I stay up past midnight, my mental fatigue doesn’t let me finish my worksheet. In four hours, my alarm wakes me up, and I go through the same, stressful routine.

This daily sequence of events is all I’ll ever remember from my first two years of high school. I convinced myself that sacrificing my sanity for a plethora of extracurriculars was my only ticket to postsecondary success.

High school has become a battle of finding time for an overabundance of extracurriculars in an attempt to impress colleges.

A study by Frontiers of Psychology surveyed and interviewed 128 private school juniors in some of the most competitive extracurriculars and courses in the nation. 49 percent of the students reported feeling “a great deal of stress on a daily basis.”

Has the amount of extracurriculars you're a participant in ever been stressful for you to manage in addition to school?

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The study cited “the pressure to gain admission to a selective college or university” as one of the main factors in high chronic stress.

I know what it’s like to sacrifice education — the real purpose of school — for hours at an extracurricular activity. To lose track of time. To question why you’re doing any of it at all.

But I also know what it’s like to set aside your time for one extracurricular and succeed with it. And that’s the best feeling ever.

If you think a college is going to look down on you if you don’t participate in a bunch of extracurriculars, you’re wrong. Colleges have even addressed this misconception.

“We want to know where a student’s passions lie, and genuine interests tend not to appear suddenly in senior year. I’d rather see quality over quantity,” said Sarah Richardson, admissions director at Creighton University, the No. 1 ranked regional Midwestern university in the nation by U.S. News.

Colleges will be more impressed if you have a strong skill set in one extracurricular, rather than average skills in 10. And you’ll be proud of yourself too.

Allott your time toward one or two extracurriculars that you truly love, enjoy and have a passion for. When you love what you’re doing, you avoid stress and increase your productivity.

PHS offers many extracurriculars, whether that be debate, theater, journalism or sports. Choose one of them and devote the bulk of your time to it.

When I dropped the extracurriculars that were overwhelming me, I became reunited with happiness. I gained more time for myself. I now truly feel like a teenager.

Do what you love. And if you don’t love what you do, then quit.

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Spreading too thin