What I wish I knew: how many is too many extracurricular activities?

September 14, 2018

The sun burned the tops of my bare shoulders as I trekked to the SCC from North Quad. As I turned the corner of the SCC, I was bombarded by the overwhelming image that laid before me. Hundreds of students buzzed around three groupings of tables filled with enthusiastic upperclassmen fighting for first-years’ attention. Tempting us with colorful wheels, durable water bottles and food, I was getting whiplash trying to take it all in.

After spending over an hour listening to various clubs’ pitches and surrendering an email address to anyone who made eye contact with me, I walked away from the fair in a weird sort of daze. Overwhelmed and unsure, I was confused as to why I signed up for so many extracurricular activities. Yes, I had an interest in everything I signed up for, and college is a time to try new things. But how was I going to balance it all? This begs the question: How much is too much?

As us first-years are trying to feel our way through the college experience and settle on activities that not only interest but challenge us, it is hard to know whether or not we are making the right decisions. However, we will never know if we are making the right decisions unless we try everything. Brandeis is predominantly known for its “overachieving” student body. With multiple majors and minors, it is understood that Brandeisians are academically high achieving, but they are also involved with tons of other activities. How do they find the time to do it all?

Recently, I polled many Brandeisian upperclassmen in search of an answer. Like the current first-years, upperclassmen remember signing up for numerous clubs. They claimed the club fair was stressful and made students feel as though they had to do everything, but that certainly is not the case. What was suggested the most was to find clubs that most interest you, and in turn those clubs will gain your full commitment. Aside from the two or three clubs that you choose to commit to, it is also encouraged that you branch out and try unique extracurriculars you would not normally try. Sarah Pechet ’21 puts it best, “You can do tons of activities, but only at varying degrees of involvement. So it’s a matter of priority. It’s fine to participate in tons of clubs, but you can’t expect to be the president of every single one.”

There is not a magical number of clubs, sports or ensembles to join to ensure a perfect balance within your new college life. Every person is different and the adjustment to this new life is still fresh and affects people differently. Overloading your life with activities is not the most brilliant of ideas, nevertheless some people benefit from the time management skills needed to survive with such a strict schedule. If your day is filled with classes and activities, procrastination must remain on the outskirts of your day or you will not be able to complete everything you plan.

A common occurrence in my high school was the infamous “college resume.” Students would sign up for clubs not out of personal interest but for the desire to be seen in a better light by colleges. Being that we all made it to college, our resumes no longer need to be padded with random extracurriculars that stained the high school resume. Higher education and future occupations do not always care if we are involved every club, they are more concerned about GPAs, test scores and clubs that we are passionate about. Therefore, clubs are meant to be escapes from the stress of academia, so do a few activities that you actually enjoy and want to commit to!

Ultimately, we will never truly know if we are making the right decisions, whether it be in our club choices or through any other aspect of our first-year life. Yet, the entire point of the first year is to learn from our mistakes and find the balance we so often seek. So as I walk through this time in my life with you, I encourage you to try different clubs and be open and vulnerable to new activities and people, and I wish you the best of luck in finding a good balance.

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