Making choices..

<p>Hi everyone,
I'm a rising junior and new to College Confidential. Something has been bothering me, and I'm wondering if someone can give me guidance because no one in my life can! </p>

<p>I have not had strong EC's throughout my freshman and sophomore years because for much of the past 2 years, I've been involved in clubs that I thought college admissions would favor (debate, MUN..). This past spring, I starked lurking this website and realized that I should be doing what I'm interested in. My problem is that I have a passion for, and have potential in more than a few areas. I'm a dreadful decision-maker. From reading a number of posts on here, I've learned that it's best to be excellent in 1 or 2 areas. Since my grades are not so perfect (yet are improving each year) at best, by the end of junior year I will have a 92% average, my EC's MUST stand out. But how should I go about doing that? Do I need to commit myself to only 1 or 2 areas, or can I explore others? I am aiming for top-tier schools.</p>

<p>Some questions:
1. Will the exploration of my interests in my junior and senior years, as opposed to beginning earlier, look bad?
2. How do I decide? I know that I have to decide, and quickly, but I'm so conflicted. My interests are related but I realize that I have to focus, dedicate myself, and excel in only a couple of areas.
My main interests are:
Writing
Environmental issues
Photography
Filmmaking
Theater/Singing</p>

<ol>
<li>Would it be a bad decision to go for all of these?</li>
</ol>

<p>How embarrassing! I was exhausted when I made my account and misspelled "gravity", so this is my new account :]</p>

<p>Please, anyone?</p>

<p>
[quote]
1. Will the exploration of my interests in my junior and senior years, as opposed to beginning earlier, look bad?

[/quote]

It won't look /terrible/, but it would've been a huge plus if you had started earlier. </p>

<p>
[quote]
2. How do I decide? I know that I have to decide, and quickly, but I'm so conflicted. My interests are related but I realize that I have to focus, dedicate myself, and excel in only a couple of areas.
My main interests are:
Writing
Environmental issues
Photography
Filmmaking
Theater/Singing

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Well which of those ECs do you have easy access too in your school/community? Which ones could you easily excel at and gain leadership positions or win competitions?</p>

<p>
[quote]
3. Would it be a bad decision to go for all of these?

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I have to say yes. You only have a year before you start applying and cramming these all in while gaining possible leadership positions can hurt your grades and SAT scores. Grades + SAT > ECs.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice, Ilyana!</p>

<p>I'm going to go through my opportunities in each EC, and maybe then you and/or someone else will better be able to help me make a decision.</p>

<p>Writing: I've been writing since I was little. I won contests in elementary & middle school and joined my school's newfound literary magazine this year. I would have been guaranteed a leadership position (probably E.I.C) if I stayed at this school, but since I'm switching to a private school next year, I might not have one. I am planning on writing a lot this summer and entering many competitions next year as well as joining the literary & arts magazine staff. I'm also considering applying to UVA's Young Writers Workshop.</p>

<p>Environment: I've been active in my school's environmental club since freshman year and have recently joined forces with my city's waste department to aid their recycling campaign. Depending on which private school I'm accepted to, I will either be very active in their environmental club or create one. Also, I'm planning on doing an independent study either next year or in my senior year with a group of students in which we will research an environmental issue and do a project (I already have a great idea!) and enter national and international competitions. In addition, I am in the running for a leadership position at an environmental nonprofit which I'm very excited about. Winning the position will lead to a more important position next year, as well as invites to national and global delegations on sustainability, climate change, etc. </p>

<p>Photography: My dad is giving me a camera for my birthday in a few days and I just bought a book on photography, haha. I've loved photography for years and I think that I have a good eye for it. I'm very creative/artistic. I'm planning on creating a photography club at my new school if there isn't already one in addition to entering local, state, regional and national competitions.</p>

<p>Filmmaking: I'm obsessed with movies and I absolutely love independent films. I've thought about filmmaking for a couple of years now, and I would love to try my hand at it. I interned at a television/film production company last summer.. I would love to start a Young Filmmakers Club at my new school for anyone interested in any part of filmmaking (screenplay-writing, directing, filming, editing..) to be involved. We could collaborate on some great projects together and be guided by whoever teaches the filmmaking elective. I already have a list compiled of possible competitions we could enter!</p>

<p>Theater: I started going to theater camps and taking acting classes when I was about 6 years old. My teachers all told my mom that I had talent and that I should get an agent, but my parents didn't want me to get into that industry :( Anyway, I know that I have potential but I'd like to just make acting/singing hobbies, for now. I was thinking that I could just do the Spring One-acts at my new school and perform in my fellow filmmaking club members' films :)</p>

<p>Well almost all of them are strong and while I'd normally say go for all of them and develop each of them, you're an upcoming Junior so that would make your grades suffer. The ones that pop out to me the most is the writing/environment passions. Put emphasis on those while making sure you stay ahead in school with a rigorous curriculum and you'll be fine. If and only if you have extra time, you could enter some contests related to your other passions. I don't recommend making clubs for them, though.</p>

<p>Okay, thank you for your input! :]</p>

<p>Anyone else?</p>

<p>Since you're switching to a new school, changing ECs may not seem incredibly bizarre, especially if you've been pursuing these things as hobbies for a while. This change could be something to explore in an essay to make your reasons more clear (though I don't recommend admitting you spent your first two years of HS resume-whoring). </p>

<p>Honestly, I recommend you pick one to pursue in depth. In terms of impressiveness, the environmental option sounds the coolest--question: are you actually making a difference at this nonprofit or just doing grunt work? I'd pursue that as far as possible by taking initiative within that organization to actually make a difference (see calnewport.com/blog for interesting ideas on how to achieve impressive things with those kinds of ECs). That, in conjunction with independent study, could be pretty cool. Keep in mind that starting a respectable club takes a lot of time and energy, and may not be worth it in the grand scheme of things.</p>

<p>I'm with Ilyana in that you don't want to take on too much. I don't see the other interests you have being as compelling or unique as working with the environmental nonprofit. Which isn't at all to say that they're unworthy interests, but that they may not take you as far in the limited time you have left to impress adcoms. The most important thing is not to sacrifice your grades and SAT (you may need to prep). With your GPA, it may be tricky to get into top schools, so don't let that slide!</p>

<p>Thanks so much for your reply! </p>

<p>This is pretty funny - I actually found out about this organization that I'm hoping to work with through Cal Newport's blog! In an example he gave comparing two students EC's, he mentioned that this student worked with the organization and so I looked it up. Since I'm new, the only position that I'm able to run for is "Member-at-Large". According to the organization's website, this role involves "providing feedback on transparency, accountability, and organization's ability to meet the needs of its members. I would consult with members and non-members regarding leadership effectiveness and report suggestions to the Steering Committee. Responsibilities include attending all Steering Committee calls, reading and monitoring e-mail lists, and making suggestions on how to make the organization more accountable, transparent, and effective."</p>

<p>Next spring, I will be able to run for a much more involved position. Though, I'm hoping that if I prove my dedication and passion, that I will be given more important projects and be invited to international delegations sooner. I have already talked to some young women in charge, and they seem to like me.</p>

<p>I've been thinking about starting a local group for all environmentally-minded teens to get together and take action as opposed to all of the small clubs at the various schools. Do you think that this would stand out to adcoms?</p>

<p>Hm.. so, you suggest that I pick one EC to pursue in depth: the environment. What about the rest of the EC's? I really do love writing, photography and theater. I know that writing, photography and filmmaking can all easily tie into environmental issues. I could write articles/poetry about the environment, utilize my photography in local environmental campaigns, and make a documentary about the Earth/an environmental issue. What do you think?</p>

<p>I definitely understand that grades are the most important thing to focus on.. I am making straight A's my absolute priority.</p>

<p>Glassesarechic, I really appreciated your advice so please reply to my new questions when you get the chance. :)</p>

<p>In the meantime, can anyone else please give me advice? I so badly want to make the best decision (whichever will help me get into my dream school). BTW, my dream schools are Yale, Stanford, Dartmouth and Brown. I also have more realistic choices, but I obviously want to aim for the top.</p>