This year, do less
Margaret Hynds | Friday, August 19, 2016
The class of 2020 is indisputably one of the best and brightest in the histories of the University and College. We seem to say that every year, and yet every year it remains the truth.
Getting here required a perfectly curated resume of community service, sports and a slew of after-school activities — on top of a competitive GPA and sky-high test scores. In short, there was a lot to do and, for most of you, someone hovering nearby to make sure you did it.
Now, you will have more free time than you ever had before, and while a fair amount of it will be spent studying and occasionally sleeping, you’ll still have plenty of hours left in the day. And as you navigate the newfound freedom from the watchful eyes of your parents, the biggest decision you’ll make this year is how you’ll spend them.
The activities fair is 11 days away. It’s certainly tempting to repeat what you did in high school, jamming as many different clubs, sports and activities into your schedule and resume as you possibly can. And if you do, your resume will certainly seem impressive on first glance.
But my challenge for you is two-fold: First, settle on a few things instead of a dozen and really immerse yourself in them. I promise you’ll be better for it.
I signed up for The Observer the second week of my freshman year at the activities fair, along with about 45 other clubs. I didn’t think I would stick around very long, but I had written for my paper in high school, and they gave me free candy, so in exchange I offered up my email address. When I got the first post-fair email, I went to a meeting on something of a whim. As a former editor once put it, The Observer quickly went from a hobby, to a job, to an obsession, and has fairly heavily shaped what I want to do with my life after graduation. My list of other activities at school is limited, but I wouldn’t trade the experience and friendships I’ve picked up along the way for anything.
The second challenge is to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, to go to things you don’t know anything about, and to listen. Lectures, shows and local excursions might not show up on a CV, but you may find yourself pleasantly surprised if you take the time to go. These campuses have access to world-class guest lectures, productions and professors, and it would be a shame to spend four (or more) years here without taking advantage.
So do less. Don’t do things for the sake of doing them, and take advantage of what you have in front of you. And, of course, welcome home.