It’s no new knowledge that extracurriculars are a massive part of student life at Macleans. Every student has had it drilled into their heads that extracurriculars are compulsory during their time here.

But how do you go about picking out the right extracurriculars for yourself? After all, it’s no fun to be stuck in an activity you despise throughout the year.

What do you enjoy?

With hundreds of clubs at your fingertips, the sheer number of options at Macleans can appear overwhelming at times. To surf through the sea of potential groups you can join, the first step is to figure out what you enjoy. Although extracurriculars are compulsory, they should be something students take advantage of to enrich their life at Macleans rather than time-consuming activities to work against.

For example, if you’re interested in finance or business, consider checking out the Investment Club. Or maybe you enjoy public speaking, in which case, you can consider debating, the Ethics Olympiad and UN Youth just to name a few options.

Sometimes, you will find that certain activities are just not for you, and that is okay. In the process of exploration, it is natural to find out what you enjoy and dislike. The bright side is that no matter whether the activity you get involved in, you are able to learn more about your own likes and dislikes which will help you pick out more suitable extracurriculars in the future.

What are you passionate about?

Joining an extracurricular for enjoyment is one thing but on the flip side, there is also joining to create an impact. This means aligning yourself with a cause of initiative resonating deeply with your personal values and beliefs

Perhaps you are passionate about being an advocate for human rights, in which case, the Amnesty Club or Zonta Club would be perfect.

Pursuing activities to generate an impact allows individuals to contribute positively to the community while also growing professionally. Collaborating with like-minded peers and developing leadership skills, all while making a meaningful difference, can often be equally satisfying as doing an activity purely for enjoyment.

Pareto’s Principle

Pareto’s Principle, sometimes known as the 80/20 rule, is quite simple. It states that 80% of outcomes (outputs) are the result of 20% of causes (inputs). Time is unfortunately a scarce resource, so it is generally recommended to double down on the 20% of inputs as it will generate the bulk of the output, or in this case, the 20% of activities that yield 80% of your satisfaction.

This is particularly important if your list of extracurricular activities begins to build up or if life starts to get busy, leaving less time for these activities.

Applying the Pareto’s Principle to balance your extracurriculars

As an economist would put it, there is a tradeoff between spending time on your extracurriculars and enjoying leisure time. Though it is great for students to get involved in school, setting aside time for leisure is equally important. To not overwhelm yourself by the sheer volume of commitments from extracurriculars, it is vital to identify what activities matter the most as a starter based on criteria such as enjoyment or impact generated. Focusing on the factors important to you allows you to maximise satisfaction from what you put into these activities, making the most of your time. 

But at the same time, don’t forget the remaining 80% of inputs. This is what gives breadth to your profile, which goes hand in hand with the depth from doubling down on the 20% of inputs.

Say you are a student who loves the outdoors- in this case, you might double down on doing Duke of Edinburgh and a sport like orienteering. But to have some breadth in your profile, you might throw in a few clubs that pique your interest like the hospitality club, or K-pop social dance. Ultimately, finding a sense of balance between your major activities and the more minor groups you like will allow your profile to be more well-rounded. 

Extracurriculars come with a vast array of benefits, such as broadening your network or providing valuable life experiences. As a result, don’t hesitate to explore new interests and more importantly, don’t be afraid to pivot into something new if an activity does not resonate with you. Remember, it is better to have a few deep extracurriculars that you find meaningful than to do a whole list of activities you are superficially involved in. Placing a focus on activities that bring joy or align with your values and applying effective strategies to balance them out with other options you enjoy can help you make the most of your extracurricular experience at Macleans.

At the end of the day, it is your own journey so it is crucial to embrace what you do with enthusiasm and purpose.

4th July, 2024
Written by Aaron Huang, edited by Emma Li
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

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