Pick Your High School Extracurriculars Wisely

When people say to start an activity in high school, they say don’t do it just for the college application. Do things that you have an interest in and wouldn’t mind doing outside of high school, even if college apps didn’t exist. Your portfolio should reflect the best qualities of you as a person, even without you telling them. While being in an honor society may put you as an “academic cool kid”, think about how many other people have National Honor Society listed under their portfolio. You want to stand out as much as possible by having a unique set of activities that show what you love.

So these next few bits of this article will be from an old about section explaining how I decided to put all my activities in high school together. It became a bit too long for my tastes, so I’ve decided to turn it into a blog post instead.

My passion for computer science began to when I was a two-year-old laying my hands on World of Warcraft for the first time. I deeply fell in love with WoW as it was the first hobby that my father introduced me to, and it was a safe space where I learned English, talked to my online friends, and developed as a person. It was these qualities that motivated me to pursue computer science, in hopes that I could replicate that same experience for someone else one day. Although I’ve deviated from the game development path quite a bit, that did not stop me from wanting to share the positive experiences I had with other people.

And that is where my experience began as a Curriculum Developer for Contra Costa Community College District began. During my freshman year of high school, I decided to join the local cybersecurity club with my friends to put a name on a college application. But it became so much more than that. I met talented people, acquired many skills, and grew closer to everyone. I became adept at refining my cybersecurity skills that I was brought on the team by the same league I competed in. I now make curriculum yearlong and teach at a 3-week summer course, drifting in the lines of education and cybersecurity.

Although I do not want to explicitly be in education, I’ve always loved being on the giving and receiving end. From my roots in my first job as a martial arts instructor when I was 7 to tutoring pro bono or as a side gig, teaching has always been something I enjoyed. Teaching comes with the effect of becoming more knowledgeable at the things learned previously. I’m a self-taught learner for most things, and I have always dived into topics that weren’t so appropriate for my age. I taught myself how to play several instruments and to understand Japanese audibly when I was 3 years old. The COVID-19 pandemic gave me more time to learn, allowing me to pick up previous interests I had abandoned in the past, such as chess and programming. Programming has renewed my interest in computer science, and I’ve built a couple projects since that visualize the many ideas going through my head.

There is a lot of cross-talk between my various passions, and in that intersect between information technology and computer science is where I find myself. While computer science is responsible for making the applications we know and love, information technology takes its role in the hardware end, making sure that there are powerful servers for millions of people to log in at the same time as well as being responsible for driving the beautiful graphics displayed on the monitor. That is where Valkyrie PCs began, a for-profit organization providing IT services to the community maintained by local K-12 students.

I had started this project in 7th grade to ride the bandwagon of PC gaming growth due to Fortnite. But, I later involved my community on both ends on the service, and wanted to establish a more professional front by earning my CompTIA A+ and Google IT Support Professional certifications. It was here where it expanded just from PC services to all things technology related, whether that be laptop repair or custom keyboards. Aside from being paid and getting my hands on the latest technology, helping the people around me at an affordable cost was the ultimate reward.

It ends a bit short because I’ve omitted the conclusion part, but you can see how all my passions ended up forming the overall picture of what I want to be portrayed as. So what can you take back from this? Be well-rounded in your course selection, but have a “spike” build a portfolio that shows your interests in one topic, regardless whether you know your major. Make sure to stay consistent because in the end, quality & longevity > quantity.

This article is part of a whole guide to getting into college. View it here!