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A Few Simple Rules for Picking the Best Extracurriculars for You

A Few Simple Rules for Picking the Best Extracurriculars for You

By Brandon Specktor

Everyone takes up extracurricular activities for two simple reasons: To meet people (sexy people!), and to hone their crafts (sexy crafts!). The secret third reason might be "because mom made me," but if that's the case then shame on you for not wanting to share your awesome and unique talents with the world, and let's pretend for one short semester that you actually want to play here with the rest of us.

Be it a sport, a musical or visual art, or simply an excuse to talk trash with interesting people in lieu of writing a five-paragraph-essay on George Washington's latrine, the hobbies you fill your pre- and post-classroom hours with will become one of the most important parts of your life. Here's a few general tips for picking an extracurricular worth staying awake for:

Ask yourself, "What would I be doing at home right now?"

If the answer is "watching cartoons," join the anime club! If you'd rather be laughing snidely into your iPad at the expense of some forum rando's crappy fanfiction, sign up on the editorial staff of your school's literary magazine! Some hobbies, admittedly, are best practiced in solitude (e.g., nude parkour basket-weaving), but chances are if you're doing something you enjoy there's a whole network of like-minded weirdos who'd love to do it with you. Share the love—within the parameters of public indecency laws.

Move outside your comfort zone

Obvs, you should pick an extracurric. you're at least marginally interested in. But the key to personal growth lies in challenging yourself, and the (easiest) key to gaining an advantage with the opposite sex lies in stacking the ratio in your favor. If you're one of the only gentlemen in Color Guard or one of the only ladies in Artisanal Blacksmithing, you may earn an unjust reputation with your peers who were afraid to take such radical chances. But, you know what? As we say in Wrench Club: Screw them! When it's time to hug it out at the end of the semester you'll not only be the master of an exciting new craft (college and career admission offices LOVE unusual talents), but also the beneficiary of your school's finest blacksmith booty.

Pick your props wisely

"Hey. What's up. Oh, this? Yeah, just my authentic 400-pound Ruskers-Taskin harpsichord. It's no big deal. I'm the captain of harpsichord club. We're going to regionals next week, but, it's chill."

During the furious makeout session that will undeniably follow this conversation, it's easy to forget about the four fractured vertebrae you sustained just that morning trying to cram your 'chord through the narrow bus aisle, or the exorbitant financial and emotion damages you'll suffer several periods later when that jealous doucher from bio class loads your instrument with dissected pig entrails.

Whatever extracurricular you choose, remember that the tools of your trade are part of you and your daily life. Like so many metaphorical eggshell babies, your props, instruments, and implements of creativity are yours to nurture and protect. Don't take up cello just because it's bound to grab someone's attention. You still gotta carry that sucker around town, Bro Yo Ma!

If you're still in the experimental phase of extracurricular planning/flaunting, go for a happy medium. A violin case is an unmistakeable signifier of creativity, and just as easy to sling over your back like a gunslinger while you bike straight to Snog Valley. If you're already enamored with the heavyweight hobbies—double bass, ice hockey, anything that involves two or more tripods—there's honor in that too. Just take advantage of your school's storage spaces, and don't expect not to struggle a little for your craft, Vincent Van Bro.

Which extracurriculars are you doing this year?

Remember, at the end of the day you've still got classwork to deal with too

Extracurriculars are fun—oftentimes they're the most rewarding side effects of education you'll ever incur. But in your excitement to meet new people and try new things don't bite off more than you can chew. When it's time to stow away the puff paint and stanky gym jerseys, you've still got homework, and studying, and long-term midterm project planning to contend with, so give yourself some time to breath. A staff spot on your school newspaper or position on a competitive athletic team can provide a full-time education of its own, if you're passionate about what you do. Keep that in mind when you stare obsessively at the empty spaces on your course schedule. A well-rounded list of hobbies is important, but so is passing geometry.

Hope this helps, hobby goblins.

What've your favorite extracurriculars been? What advice do you have for first-timers?

Topics: Life, Back to School
Tags: sports, hobbies, back to school, school, extracurriculars, clubs, music

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About the Author
Brandon Specktor

For 22 years, Brandon was a fat kid living in Tucson, AZ, which gave him lots and lots of time to write. He now works at a magazine in New York City, but still loves writing almost as much as he loves muffins.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.