Wake up, school, meetings, sleep, repeat. When you walk into the doors of IMSA, you are presented with a thousand opportunities, all of which fit what you want to do. They’re advertised that way for a reason: “Interested in medicine?”, “Want to help others?”, “Are you interested in ___?” and on and on. They all sound perfect and magical and everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Until they aren’t.
When I first started at IMSA, the first thing I was told was, “Do not overcommit.” I thought I was different, and you might think you are too. However, I want to tell you that you aren’t, and this isn’t in a rude “You can’t handle this” sort of way. It is a warning of genuine concern.
As a sophomore, everything you do is controlled. You have mandatory classes, mandatory meetings for Navigation, and mandatory study hours. The only freedom you have is extracurricular activities, which may cause you to want to splurge. Don’t.
I remember my first club fair as a sophomore. I had over 14 clubs written down, all of which were the top priorities, and I soon applied to them. Needless to say, I had to drop quite a few (a lot). I settled on 9. What we sometimes forget is that clubs carry over. The ones you start with in Sophomore year will be yours in Senior year (unless you drop them).
My only advice to you is to pick a few. Pick three that you will pour your heart and soul into. If you aren’t willing to put everything into it, don’t do it. If you don’t think you will be happy to do the work, don’t do it. If you are only considering joining a club because you think it will look good on college applications, don’t do it. You will already look good on college applications. IMSA clubs are not to make you look better; they are there to make changes or to fill an interest. If you aren’t interested in those, drop them.
Welcome to the world of freedom. You choose your classes, how your afternoon and night will look, and, once again, your extracurriculars. Most of you will be in the same clubs as last year. If you are already in three clubs, stop now. Do not add more, even if you think you will have time. I promise you won’t. Although sophomore year seems so controlled and busy, Junior year is just as busy, if not more. Teachers will expect a lot more because you have had a whole year to adjust. That being said, stick with three. If you weren’t in any last year but want to now, I highly recommend choosing the few you care about and checking the time commitments.
The best advice I can give you is to look where you have space in your calendar. I know most clubs don’t share meeting days until you are admitted but be mindful of that. My schedule last year consisted of meetings from 4:30 to 10 on Mondays and Wednesdays and then roughly three hours of meetings every other day. This is not enough time to do homework.
Also, consider other activities you may want to participate in. For example, SIR! Refrain from spending your SIR time doing homework or blowing it off. You will do amazing things in SIR, and my proudest accomplishment stems from Drug Discovery. SIRs are extra classes you take only on Wednesdays, so treat it as such.
Culture shows. Dances take a lot of preparation time, and practices will likely be twice a week. And, that’s only for one dance. Imagine doing three. Dance practices are usually at the most inconvenient times (sorry, choreos) and will take up a substantial chunk of time. Junior year is supposed to be hard, and it will be, but still remember to get involved and enjoy the years you have left here.
The only advice I have is don’t stop now or fall short. I can admit to letting things fail with the advocation of “I’m leaving anyways.” Yes, you are, but the others aren’t. Help them have a good IMSA experience. Show them healthy habits and resources, and don’t let them fall even if you did when you were in their position.
Senior year will be busy. And I promise you will want to make the most of it. So make sure you have time to hang out with friends and go or participate in culture shows and club events. Enjoy every ounce of IMSA that you can.
Club Culture is a massive part of IMSA, and you must do what you love. However, don’t compromise your health or mental state to do so. I promise you will still get into college no matter what clubs you did or didn’t do. Remember, you can always drop clubs if necessary, even if it seems bogus. Life will go on, and happiness is more important than losing yourself in the IMSA Club Culture.