Hi, I'm a high school junior and, while I have been taking care of myself academically, I feel as though I am struggling with extracurricular activities and specialty. I apologize for the length; I tend to ramble on and on sometimes.
Since freshmen year I've done really well academically. I've gotten all A's in all of my class (so I currently have a 4.37 GPA), and have taken a difficult course load (ranked 1st in my class). I was the only sophomore at my school to ever take AP Calculus BC (I am now taking Calculus 3 at a community college and will be taking Differential Equations in the spring) and all my teachers pretty much recognize me as their best student (don't like to brag, but just telling it like it is). I also did well on my AP exam scores last year (5 on AP Calc BC, 5 on AP European History, and a 4 on AP Chemistry, which I didn't study for).
My extracurriculars, though, have definitely been iffy. I played on the JV boys' volleyball team freshmen year and was captain, MVP, and recipient of the scholar-athlete award. Then last year I played varsity boys' volleyball and was a starting hitter. I am playing again this year and expect to be captain and scholar-athlete, but most likely not MVP. I also have a chance of making the all-league team (my league is the most competitive in California). My athleticism may be decent and all, but I'm not exactly college recruit material and my lame public school will probably never even win a section title. How necessary is team success in college applications?
Clubs are where I think I struggle the most. Freshmen and sophomore year I was a member of the California Scholarship Federation club and the Ignite Christian Club, but did not hold any leadership positions. Sophomore year I was in the Science Olympiad club, but we didn't have any office positions and weren't very successful in the competition because, once again, I go to a lame public school where 90% of the seniors go to either a community college or CSU. This year, though, I plan to run for president of the CSF club, create office positions in the Science club and be co-president, and found an American Red Cross club that actually gets things done. Will that be enough to turn the tables in my favor?
In addition, I have been involved in a cancer research volunteer position, but it isn't quite as good as it sounds. I volunteer for the International Cancer Advocacy Network, which is a branch of the American Cancer Society. I started out beginning of sophomore year as a Web Research Intern to collect recent scientific journal abstracts on designated topics in melanoma to be used for a foundation project that would provide a database with current and cutting-edge research to melanoma patients. Then last February, the team leader retired and I was promoted to Associate Research Team Leader, in which I managed the twelve interns (who were mostly college students) working on the project. Also, I just recently got offered a side job by the CEO to work as a drug research data entry...uh...person. Unfortunately, I don't know how good these positions are because, while I do put in a lot of time and effort, it is all done from my computer at home because the company is based in Phoenix.
Should I get some work experience? Currently, all I do is babysitting, assistant refereeing for girls' volleyball, and assistant coaching a middle school boys' volleyball team (my brother's) in the spring. I don't think I have much time to spare, but would a decent part-time job help me here?
Last summer, I didn't do anything very substantial or interesting. I did my ICAN research as previously described, and tried to learn Latin on my own (which I will not be continuing with) as well as French. I also read a few books, but mostly I was on vacation visiting family. How much will that hurt me? Next summer, I plan to something more impressive, like a lab research internship or other summer program. I might try to do the Summer Science Program as it seems interesting and I think I may have a leg-up with my advanced calculus background, but I realize it is extremely hard to get accepted and there are no guarantees.
One unique thing I do, though, is genealogy. I have been actively involved in researching my family's history since around 5th grade and have traced my family back to the 1200s and discovered things such as the fact that I am a direct descendant of both Richard Henry Lee and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. I'm also applying for a young genealogist's award this year, which I am hopeful I will acquire.
Too sum it all up: I am a good student. I got a 220 on my PSAT last year as a sophomore without studying and have had no trouble with my difficult schedule. However, I would like advice on how to strengthen my application and project myself as having more activities outside of school. If you read this whole entire essay-like post, I thank you for bearing with me. Any help would be much appreciated