Resume building alters high school experience

Grace Chatas, Staff Writer

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Although she is not in Juggling and Magic Club, juggling various activities is nothing new for senior Samantha Heyman. As a member of over 11 different clubs and organizations at Glenbrook North, Heyman is used to managing both her schoolwork and activities while dealing with the resulting fatigue.

“During volleyball season and during Comedy Sportz, I was captain on both of those and I felt like I should keep it together,” said Heyman. “But I would get so tired. I would get home anytime between seven and nine, or if it was a game day, or obviously the show, to be home at like 10 or 11. I was so tired, and I would never just tell my teacher, ‘Oh I had a late night.’”

Despite her fatigue, Heyman said her involvement in extracurricular activities has been a rewarding experience. It has also been beneficial with the prospect of college admissions.

“Grades are super important, but [colleges] want to make sure that you’re involved in activities and clubs, and I think they put into consideration that you’re not going home at 3 o’clock every day after school,” Heyman said.

During a phone interview, Sally Lindsley, senior associate director of admissions at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said colleges do not have specific preferences when looking at student activities, but do evaluate extracurriculars based on the context of a student’s personal life.

“[Admissions counselors consider] what’s available to the student and how they choose to use that time,” said Lindsley. “[The admissions process] is a subjective thing, but there [is no extracurricular] that we would say is going to be trumping something else.”

Lindsley said she looks to see that student efforts are genuine when reviewing applications.

“Try to find something that fits your talents and your time and your money,” said Lindsley. “Just doing something because you think it looks good on a resume usually falls pretty flat.”

In a phone interview, independent college consultant Marla Dembitz said students should try to demonstrate depth and focus on a few activities to go beyond just being a club member.

“What [colleges are] looking for now … is the angular student,” said Dembitz. “What that really means is a student who has shown passion and dedication to a few activities, and [colleges] can see the growth [within activities] over the years.”

Students should join a variety of extracurriculars their freshman year to find what they enjoy, then during their sophomore year, limit their activities to the ones they are most interested in, Dembitz said.

“When [colleges] see 10 things on a resume but none of them show depth, then they feel that you really haven’t brought dedication to any of them and that you’re spreading yourself thin,” Dembitz said.

As a three-sport athlete, sophomore Carly Harris said she wants to pursue a variety of activities to show diversity in her resume beyond athletics.

“I think [it is] important to be able to say to a college counselor, ‘I’m an athlete, but I’m also involved as a volunteer and a participant in other activities other than just sports,’” Harris said.

GBN counselor Rebecca Rogers said students often put too much of an emphasis on building up a resume throughout their high school careers.

“Students might get caught up in trying to get involved with lots of things and maybe trying to have some leadership roles, but I think it’s more powerful to have a story that all connects,” she said.

According to Rogers, colleges report that they prefer to see a student’s identity represented through activities rather than an extensive list of extracurriculars. Students can get caught up in creating an ideal academic and social profile in the hopes of gaining admission to certain colleges.

“The reality is that nothing guarantees admission,” said Rogers. “[Plans] can change, and students will get the most out of their high school experience if they’re being genuine and authentic and connecting to the activities and classes that are meaningful to them, personally.”

Heyman said she plans to attend a university that values the extracurriculars she has pursued in high school.

“I would never do something [solely] for a college application,” said Heyman. “If a school doesn’t want me for something I’m passionate about, then I shouldn’t go there.”

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Resume building alters high school experience