Doing school: resume building


Resume building has become a necessary skill for high school students.  In order to appeal to colleges, students must remain competitive by participating in extracurricular activities.  

To an extent, this is good: extracurricular activities such as sports or service organizations can be valuable, teaching discipline and encouraging hard work.  However, resume building has morphed into a system that prohibits students from fully dedicating themselves to a specific activity.  Students are forced to become chronic multi-taskers, spreading themselves to so many different activities, that each receives only a thin layer of time.

How can one give 100% to five different activities?  How can one attend sports practices, clubs, and manage homework?  Easy.  By doing a half-arse job.  This is not to say that it is impossible to balance tasks, as there are some individuals who are more capable than others, but generally those who are involved in everything are essentially involved in nothing.  By trying to do everything, parts of every activity are neglected.  

Aaron Smith, senior, said, “Some people at our school, in trying to impress colleges, will be ‘leaders’ in ten or more clubs, but in reality if you are a leader in that many things than really you are a leader in nothing because being a leader takes time that cannot be divided into that little of time.”

Smith, for example, chose not to participate in National Honors Society (NHS), because attending meetings would cause him to miss cross country practice.  As captain, Smith felt a duty to always attend practice–even if that meant missing out on an opportunity to build a resume for college.

It is almost as if students are punished for dedicating themselves to one activity–for giving their all.  Sure, being “well-rounded” is preferable, but what this process is really doing is encouraging students to “do school–” to participate in extracurriculars for the sole purpose of increasing the probability of their acceptance to college.

Morgan Burke, senior, said, “I probably wouldn’t be a member of a lot of clubs if not for college.”

The obsession for a perfect resume prompts students to do things for the sole purpose of making themselves seem more competitive for college.  Resume building encourages students to craft themselves into the ideal candidates, no matter the cost.  Students will embellish, lie, and cheat their way to a “better” resume.  Resumes are no longer about simply strutting your stuff, but about how you can make your stuff sound better than everyone-else’s.  Did you help cut out flyers for Key Club?  Well, on your resume you were the “Chair of the paper product shaping committee.”  

Instead of focusing on a broad approach to activities, colleges should celebrate students who instead of spreading themselves thinly everywhere, can spread themselves generously in few areas–students who genuinely care about what it is that they are doing.

“Honestly, I feel like they [many extracurricular activities] are kind of pointless.”  said Burke.

And honestly–they are.


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