I write the "Ask the Dean" column for College Confidential, and I wish I had a nickel for each time someone has asked me, "If I [join this team, found this club, launch this magazine, etc.], how will it look to college admission officials?
Occasionally, I think that the student is asking this because he or she really wants to do the activity in question but is fearful that the college folks may frown on the choice (e.g., "How will it look if I drop out of the school orchestra to play in a reggae band that rehearses at the same time?").
But, more commonly, I get the vibe that these questions are submitted by students who will pursue the new endeavor exclusively--or at least primarily--for the purposes of college-application fodder. There was one girl, for instance, who said that she loved tutoring at an inner-city elementary school through her high school Key Club, but she had been warned by an older friend that it looked "too boring" on applications. The friend was urging her to instead create her own community service club from scratch, even if it meant giving up the project she liked so much.
So here are a few questions:
If you are a current or recent college student (or a high school senior) ...
Did you undertake any extracurricular endeavor ONLY (or mostly) because you thought it would impress admission committees? If so, what was it?
With hindsight, are you glad or sorry that you did it? Why?
(Parents, feel free to chime in, too, especially if you urged a child to take a particular path largely because of its admission-decision potential. How did it work out?)