New to Andover, Juniors are bombarded with information about the opportunities that the school offers. They can be overwhelmed by the large variety of extracurriculars at the club rally, and encouraged, loudly, to join them all. We are never given a chance, however, to pause and reflect on what we want our extracurricular lives here to look like. We often fail to discuss how to prioritize our interests and take advantage of resources for managing our extracurricular schedule. As a result, it is easy to become lost amidst this overwhelming sea of information, wading through the selection of activities you’re not interested in just to finally come across the ones that you are. While in theory it’s possible to attend all of the clubs you originally signed up for at the club rally, there comes a time when we all have to choose a few activities we feel are most important to us.
With midterm week behind us, now is a good time to reflect on whether or not we like the direction we are taking at Andover. Academic schedules for Juniors are largely fixed, and thus choosing which activities to participate in outside of school is one of the few decisions we can make independently. These activities can enable us to fulfill our passions and help us determine who we are outside of academics. While the club rally seems like a good solution for this, the fact remains that students aren’t always aware of which clubs they might be interested in, especially so early in the school year. Encouraging new interests should not stop at the club rally and a club’s additional information session at the beginning of the term. After midterms, new students are more accustomed to the rhythm of life at Andover and therefore better equipped to make smarter choices about their extracurricular passions.
It is unfair to expect clubs to welcome new members year-round, or to expect them to continually recruit members and raise awareness for their activities. Every club is different and some require more dedication than others. Most clubs, however, are extremely flexible with attendance and happily welcome new members every week. With such flexibility, students should be able to access information about all clubs on campus at any time throughout the year. Andover has already tried to accomplish this through the club list published on its website and the club calendar accessible through PANet. These are good starts, but these resources must be updated every year to actually be useful. As of right now, they are outdated and inaccurate and list incorrect meeting times or expired email addresses of club leaders who have already graduated. The value of these clubs is greatly compromised if it’s almost impossible to join them unless you show dedication from the start. Cutting off access to information about club meeting times and descriptions after the initial club rally prevents students from pursuing their passions fully, especially if these passions develop as the year progresses.
In order to solve this problem, we need to update electronic resources with club and activity descriptions at least at the start of each year. This process can be made even easier by creating a club database that would contain the names of current club heads, contact information, meeting times and locations. The database could be accessed by club leaders, allowing each club to update information about their club whenever necessary. Furthermore, there should be periodic dorm meetings for younger students focused on the after-class opportunities the school has to offer. Consistent reminders about the diversity of clubs and interests on campus would encourage new students to explore clubs and find the ones that best suit their passions. This would also help Juniors make more informed decisions regarding their extracurricular decisions. Right now, there is no guarantee that students have access to the clubs that they may want to join later in the school year. Searching for ways to resolve this issue will be a step forward in recognizing that students’ interests constantly evolve, even throughout the school year.