Whenever a new freshman class enters CHS, the students are encouraged to “get involved” by joining an extracurricular activity at the school. This year, student body president Terrance Lewis and senior Shayan Ahmad have decided to take that mantra to a new level. Their goal is to participate in at least 40 clubs this school year. To date, they have already surpassed participation in at least 30 clubs.
“(Shayan and I) probably put (in an) average of 10 hours (per week),” Lewis said. “We (go to clubs) every day of the week, about two hours a day. (For the weekend), if volunteer opportunities are on a Saturday, we try doing that.”
According to Lewis, the feat started with a yearbook.
“One day Shayan and I were going through the old yearbook and we’re thinking, ‘How many clubs can we do without committing a lot?’ We counted (the clubs) up—there were about 40 (in the book), and (we) thought we could do it,” Lewis said.
In today’s academic world, participation in extracurricular activities can open doors for scholarships and influence admission to private schools and highly selective schools more than anything, according to counselor Stephanie Aikins via email.
Both Lewis and Ahmad said they did not join with the intent of putting the clubs on their college applications. However, the fact that extracurricular activities play a role in college admissions along with increased competition among high school students for college acceptance may lead some students to join clubs mainly for a college application.
Kern Vohra, Key Club president and senior, said he believes the reasons people join a club can have an impact on their activity in the club, and many activities, like Key Club, require lots of commitment. He said he can spot the difference between those who are committed to the group and those who aren’t.
“Why you want to join is a big reason,” Vohra said. “Key Club members are required to have 40 hours (of community service) by the end of the year. If you’re in the club and you’re really passionate about volunteering, you’re going to get more than 40 hours. If you’re in it just to make yourself look good, then you’re going to get the 40 (hours) and that’s it.”
However, college applications were not a big part of his decision, Lewis said.
“(College) crossed our minds, but the thing is, that can’t be the reason, only for the main purpose to put on a college application. The thing is, me or Shayan didn’t put that on our applications. (The colleges) would think we were lying.”
Also, although many colleges may value extracurricular activity for a student, Lewis said he cautions underclassmen from attempting the same club-joining feat he and Ahmad have attempted.
“I’m not different than anyone else, but underclassmen have a lot more to focus on,” Lewis said. “It’s a fun experience; if they think they can handle all of it and academics, then go for it. But it’s a very time-consuming experience.”
Also, colleges look more for content, not simple quantity, according to Aikins.
“Many colleges would want to know what contributions students have made through their choice of extracurricular activities,” Aikins said. “Colleges can see through efforts to pad a resume, so adding a club or activity in name only really does not help the admission cause. They are looking for content, not simply quantity.”
However, Lewis said he and Ahmad had attempted this challenge not for the colleges but instead for the experience.
“I’ve always thought that there’s no way a certain thing can be boring when there’s a group of people involved that like to do it,” Lewis said.
Although there is a large time commitment that he and Ahmad plan to continue pursuing until the end of their senior year, Lewis said he did take away a lot from this experience. Not only did he say he recognized the diversity of the student body to aid in his role as student body president, but he has also seen the benefits of trying new activities.
Lewis said, “Basically, the fact that if you give, in most situations, getting new opportunities and new situations a chance, they will most likely be beneficial, or you’ll have fun doing it.”