The Problem with College Climbing


Robinson Lee, Staff Writer

I’m not afraid to admit it now, but I had lofty and unrealistic ambitions for high school when I was beginning my freshman year. I hoped and dreamed that I would enter a multitude of activities and complete them with ease, and in style. This, in turn, made me pursue every opportunity I could to do something whether it be a sport, academic team, or club. But there is a fine difference between ambition and college climbing, and my past self was definitely the latter. I was extremely focused on my future beyond high school even though I was years away. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I was borderline delusional. 

Unfortunately, this unhealthy attitude got the best of me and I became disappointed when opportunities didn’t turn out my way. It got to the point where I felt like I had to apply for more activities to compensate for my lost opportunities. But I never felt fulfilled through this whole process. This is what the unhealthy mentality of college climbing did to me and I’m not proud to admit it, but I got caught up in my own expectations. Though I learned from it, it was not a fun process.

College climbing is defined as the action of registering for and participating in many clubs and activities mainly for the purpose of a college application. But in the process, it can dilute your thinking, make high school more of a drag, and even subtracts passion from many things you would have enjoyed otherwise. It’s good to focus on college. But your experiences in high school should build your college essay and application. 

Your ideal application should not define your high school experiences. And unfortunately, when you have extremely talented people here in Arcadia who are able to do a ridiculous number of activities, it’s easy to get caught up in that climber fever and ruin yourself trying to accomplish a myriad of things at once. It can also get to the point where you lose passion, if you had any in this mentality, for the activity you’re in. If you stop enjoying an activity, and it becomes a chore to do, then why should you do it? What will you write about on that college essay you wished to be perfected if all you can remember is work? 

Being a college climber also influences people’s perception of you. People know when you are dedicated to a club or only go there because they are generous enough to provide free snacks along with volunteer hours. Believe me, they know. I can vaguely sense it when a person only participates in an activity because they think its prestigious or something of the like. And honestly, it’s kind of saddening because I know that the vast majority of “college climbers” have good intentions for themselves. 

But that ambition can turn out to be unhealthy, which is not a good combination with AHS’ rigorous classes. I remember an underclassman who kept pestering me about information about the officers and what grade they were in and how elections operate. I was less than thrilled at this inquiry, but I lament this partially because I see some of my old self through this underclassman’s request.

Aiming to get into a college is a reasonable goal that anyone can work towards. But when ambition for college gets out of control to the point where it damages your present high school experience, there is no positive result. You only live through high school once. It will be tough and brutal and you may never feel fulfilled, but you have to make the best out of it. College will creep up on you when the time comes, so the best thing to do now is try your best at taking opportunities here at AHS but savor each one. After all, four years can pass by pretty quickly.


Graphic courtesy of DOIST.COM