by Zac Gordon, Staff Writer, October 2021
With the mounting pressure of college admissions for juniors and seniors, it is hard to separate one’s classes, varsity sports, Student Leader Counsel (SLC) positions, art, or any other extracurricular commitment from the desire to succeed in the looming college process. Kayla Getter ‘17, a previous Co-President of Nobles, recalled sitting at lunch during the election when a peer told her to start taking campaigning more seriously, saying, “Don’t you know how much being President will help you get into college?” She went on to graduate from Harvard College. One might find themselves asking the question, ‘How good would it look if I could tell colleges I was the leader of a club?’ But is this mindset a bad thing? Perhaps not. The outcome of this college-centered decision-making encourages more niches where peers spend time discussing topics of interest. Not only does this help students gain admissions into top colleges, it also authentically creates spaces where students can be themselves and find a community.
What used to be a sure ticket into an Ivy League school is no longer enough to get on the waitlist. Students cannot rely on good grades and a perfect ACT score to have their pick of elite schools. Today, colleges want to see you take on leadership positions.
Why are there so many new clubs created every year? I would argue that one explanation can be attributed to the pressure of the college process. A quick Google search of “What makes a perfect college applicant?” will take you to infinite articles explaining what to do inside and outside of the classroom. The Princeton Review, a renowned company supporting students and families in the college admissions process, states on their website that students should “plan to join two or three high school clubs, ideally ascending to a leadership position in at least one of them over the course of [their] high school career,” (The Princeton Review).
However, to believe that all Nobles students participate and run clubs to get into a good college is one-dimensional. After speaking with Drew Johnstone (Class II), a current Co-President of Ethics Club, I got a clearer view of what compels student leaders in our community. Johnstone explained, “a leadership position in a club is a net-positive for college applications, but my motivation to step into a leadership position was based on my positive experience as a sophomore in the club.” Regardless of whether the widespread quest for college credentials has resulted in an increased number of clubs, all clubs at Nobles cultivate strong leadership skills and an initiative for students to explore their passions.
“When a new club is created, it may take some time for the group to gain traction,” explained Bill Bussey, who oversees the clubs and organizations. “When the leaders graduate, other members in the club also graduate with them. That creates a void which understandably takes time to re-fill; yet, a club can also find renewed energy and purpose under new leadership.” He recommends that seniors hand some responsibilities to younger members. In doing so, “their energy will help keep everything afloat while providing a smooth transition down the road.”
It is apparent that some clubs in the school’s history have been founded for the purpose of college admissions, but it is undeniable that the benefits of even these clubs go beyond the individual. The increase of clubs has a valued effect on the community, creating spaces where people’s interests are appreciated and fostered. Right now there is a dichotomy between the roles of specific clubs. Certain clubs are the epicenter of thought and discourse whereas others are a haven for friends to socialize and joke around. Regardless of the type, both create spaces that encourage students to be their true selves.
The convenience of clubs is that students have the opportunity to pick and get what they want out of X-block. Nobles offer a plethora of activities, but it is impossible for the school to exhaustively cover everyone’s interests. Clubs facilitate students by defining and identifying special interests that the school’s courses lack.
I see an opportunity for certain clubs to grow by more frequently meeting with other clubs to foster intersectional discussions. Each club at Nobles has its focus, but when coming together with others, there is an opportunity for new intellectual conversations in which members can learn from one another. For example, Spanish Club and Public Health Club had a joint discussion on the health challenges being faced in Latin America. Chess Club and Statistics Club, for one, could come together to discuss game theory. The variety of clubs enables students to creatively use X-block to explore new interests or share their personal interests with the community. This club sphere in our community both reflects the effectiveness of student leadership and enables new generations of students to cultivate leadership skills.