How important are ECs in college?

<p>I always despised extracurriculars but I did a few to get into college. The problem is the kind of things I do in my spare time (that I actually enjoy) rarely, if ever involve other people least of all an organization. Being in an organization with no clear aim would just be a hellish waste of time to me. I like to read, write, play music, play puzzle games and moderate forums when I'm not doing homework (and given we have so much homework here I barely have time to read as is- I feel terrible when I'm doing something I don't really enjoy when I could be reading). I like to always learn something and my ideal extracurricular would be like taking an extra class. As a first semester Freshman I'm not in any clubs right now, and would rather keep it that way because nothing I tried out remotely interests me. The only club I would be willing to join over the long haul has no clear goal.</p>

<p>My advisor thinks that it shouldn't matter that much in graduate school applications but I'm still worried because it just sounds like one of the things I have to do to get anywhere in life. I do plan on applying to T20 schools and apply to some scholarships, which I suspect requires more than just being a natural wordsmith and a voracious reader.</p>

<p>I don't think ECs as far as clubs matter so much as in high school. A leadership position in one still probably looks great, but I think activities like undergraduate research are probably more important than club membership if there's not actually a club you feel passionate about joining.</p>

<p>I'd say either taking an extra class, participating in undergrad research, or getting a part-time job that is interesting to you (for example, I work as a tutor) should come before membership in clubs just to be in a club. If you're truly interested in the club then that's different, and clubs can be great for meeting people with common interests as well.</p>

<p>Honestly, I think it depends on your field and major for this question. In a circumstance where undergraduate research could be completed, then that would be best over a broad range of EC's. But in my personal field of Public Relations/Music Business EC's are pretty much vital - when interviewing for Internships people want to see that I am the PR Chair for this club or that club and that musically I've worked industry events through clubs. Having EC's has greatly enhanced my job opportunities, that being said, I'm in a social field. I do think joining at least one would be beneficial though if it has to do with your major, because they are a great opportunity to network.</p>

<p>Yeah, I can see that. I would like to be more active in the chemistry society, but the problem with that is the meetings always conflict with a class, work, research, etc. I'd have to build my schedule around it to be able to go. Next semester might be the first semester I can actually go to meetings.</p>

<p>It depends on what kind of graduate school you're looking at (e.g., math vs. business, law, or public policy). If you're looking for a straight academic field, then what you should care about is conducting research. If you're looking for a professional program, however, ECs are vital. Also, ECs are vital for employment--but meaningful ECs.... not just being an officer of a club or two.</p>

<p>One of the advantages of participating in ECs is building a network of peers in your field, people who you could conceivably be working with (in the broad sense) for many years. Several of my former students keep in touch due to their shared experiences in ECs as undergrads, and they often help one another out with inside info about job opportunities at their firms, etc.</p>

<p>ECs are about doing something you enjoy?</p>

<p>I would agree with above posters that ECs in college are more about finding people who share your interests and, often, achieving common goals (many college ECs have some sort of agenda or activist component).</p>

<p>For academic ECs I would agree that it's more about being around other people who aspire to have similar careers as you, networking and all that. I don't think the primary reason someone does an EC in college should be about grad school. Let's leave the resume-padding in high school.</p>

<p>I agree. Do it because it is something you enjoy doing, not because you want to look good.</p>

<p>I used to hold that view when I was in high school, which is why I was in so few activities (I could actually tolerate the ones I was doing and on occasion enjoyed them). While I would like to keep being so high-minded and idealistic I cannot help but feel it would be impossibly stubborn, some would say foolishly so and my "ECs" (ie. reading, calligraphy) aren't activities I have anything to "show" for. They don't log hours, there are no competitions (I wouldn't participate in those anyhow) and sound extremely flimsy when put on a resume, next to somebody who is the president of three clubs, even if their commitment requires less time and effort.</p>

<p>Long story short, I don't like clubs because most of them don't engage my interests or work toward some meaningful end. I would not mind doing internship, work or research as a part of my extra-curriculars, as long as there is a clear goal to it.</p>

<p>I just hope auditing a class would count as an EC, because if that's what I would really like to do.</p>