Great breadth or deep depth?

Are your clubs hurting or helping your college portfolio?

Teresa Randlett, Assistant Entertainment Editor


Let’s be honest–as a freshman, you signed up for every single club there was. But is it wiser to stay with all those clubs throughout high school, or should you drop a few here and there to build up a position in just one or two?

Throughout high school, students are given the opportunity to be involved in so much more than just academics. Especially here at Hollis Brookline High School, students are offered to join sports teams, academic leagues, and conjoined clubs.

HB offers approximately 28 sports throughout the seasons and 32 clubs all year round. These clubs and sports appeal to a variety of student’s interests.

Clubs differ from Latin Club to Gay Straight Alliance to Culinary Club: the list goes on and on. But when junior and senior year roll around and college comes into the picture, it means filling out college portfolio forms.

The question is, what are college scouts looking for when flipping through all the forms? What is going to make someone special or stand out?

The answer has been told to students since day one of high school: extra curricular activities.

The problem is, with an abundance of choices comes a decision: to either immerse oneself in one or two clubs over the four years and be fully dedicated, or instead, create a portfolio of a variety made up of many different clubs each year.

If a student decides to involve themselves in minimal extra activities, they must show high leadership in those few clubs. It is important when joining a club to fully commit oneself and take on a big role to show off all their skills to college boards.

If one continuously holds these important roles for four years, although it won’t show colleges variety, but will illuminate student’s other beneficial qualities, such as commitment, leadership, and profound passion. Admissions officers don’t want to see all academics, they would rather see few clubs.

The flip side is if a student joins a new club every year. College boards can interpret this approach as an enriched student who enjoys the school community and would like to experience new activities. But not all colleges think that more is better.

If the student spreads themselves too thin amongst multiple clubs every year, a student’s portfolio can go from seeming chock full at first glance to actually being very little involved. Students who participate in many new clubs each year just to make the list of extracurriculars look full, are actually making themselves look lackluster.

Richard Winslow, school counselor, aid, “If you have 13 different clubs and are scattered all over the board, when a college tries to get a good feel of who you are by glancing at your portfolio, I don’t know if they can.”

Winslow tells students as freshmen to get involved, but after freshmen year, to narrow the choices down to a career or area of interest.

He said, “Colleges would rather see few clubs, but have longevity and depth to them versus a whole bunch with not much behind it,”.


Colleges are looking more for the student’s passion for a particular few clubs and sports. A long list of random clubs mixed together is suggesting the student may have joined these clubs not for personal interest, but instead for building a strong college resume.

Colleges want to see a student’s fire for a certain interest of theirs by being highly involved in a few clubs, which is also proving their authentic interest in the club.

However, the choice ultimately belongs to the students. Students should join and be involved in the clubs and activities that interest them, maybe for even for a future career, and not be completely persuaded by what colleges are advertising as an attractive portfolio. High school is a time to figure out and develop a burning fire of passion for something particularly special to the individual so they can figure out a career path for the future.