Quite a number of my friends regretted not being involved enough in high school. They picked one activity or were too involved with hanging out with friends to do much more than attend classes. Personally, I am disappointed in myself for doing too many activities in high school. My friends and I padded our resumes because we thought that many, many activities would make us more desirable to colleges—truth be told, we competed with each other to see who could be the busiest.
High school is certainly a time for exploration. Students can join the debate team and learn how to speak well, sign up for choir if they enjoy music, try out for football in the fall. Most of the time, young freshmen needn’t feel much pressure if they decide they don’t enjoy an activity—most often, they can drop out over a break or other convenient time if they decide activities aren’t for them.
However, sometimes high school students’ activities require a lot of time, energy and pressure. Activity hosts can sometimes expect that students spend all of their time with that single activity, refusing to be flexible and allowing students to make time for more than one or two activities. Look at Dance Moms, the second season which started airing last night. Those kids are required to put in about six hours a night, and they aren’t even in high school.
High school is an exploratory time, so it seems only natural that these young fourteen to eighteen year-olds should be given the chance to explore a range of interests and activities.
But so often that is not the case. High school students already need to know what they want to be as adults, and commitments to activities are looked on as absolute. Students can’t decide that they don’t want to work on the yearbook or run cross-country because they are already committed to a career in journalism or being a college cross-country runner.
At least that’s how it was with me. I look back on the activities I did in high school and wonder why I committed all of my time to them, just because I thought they’d look good on my resume. I had no interest in tennis, but I still went out for the team. On the flip side, I was in a number of musical ensembles and was supposed to commit all of my time to them, which I could not. In hindsight, I’m glad that my entire high school career didn’t consist of music lessons, recitals and ensembles.