First and Last: the second installment examines the exploration of new activities during freshman year and focus on main activities senior year.
A calendar hangs in the entrance of the kitchen, its dated boxes overflowing with colorful handwriting. Practice times, meeting places and available drivers are mapped out for the four busy Askegaard children. Freshman Lars Askegaard used up his share of the calendar this fall.
Before his season finished in a sudden-death shootout on Oct. 15, Lars had soccer practice every day after school until 6 p.m. On Wednesdays, he rushed from practice to confirmation class. He also has private violin lessons every other Saturday, church on Sundays, Young Lyfe on Mondays and piano practice in his spare time.
He rarely had spare time. Like many other freshmen in varsity sports, Lars committed large chunks of his time to being at varsity games and practices, despite limited playing time on the field. Naturally, his commitments to both varsity and C-Squad conflicted with other extracurriculars.
“I had to miss choir in the months of the soccer season,” Lars explained. “It was important to prioritize one or the other rather than trying to say ‘I’m going to try to make it to both.’”
Like Lars, many freshmen find it difficult to prioritize their countless curiosities and aspirations in high school.
Lars hopes to join the ISS team next year, which would conflict with chamber orchestra. Also, instead of playing basketball this Winter, he’s considering nordic skiing, a sport he’s never competed in before.
“In high school, there are so many new things that you can try, things you never thought about doing,” he said.
Despite conflicting extracurriculars, Lars has no intention of quitting anything.
“I can’t think of anything right now that I want to narrow out. As far as I’m concerned, it’s going okay. I can manage my time pretty well, so I plan on keeping what I have.”
College and guidance counselor Lauren Bae encourages students like Lars to explore their countless curiosities when they’re younger. However, she recognizes that students gradually focus in on their primary passions by senior year.
Senior Bailey McKenzie has her schedule narrowed down to single extracurricular. She doesn’t have to look at her calendar to know that she probably has dance.
Bailey dances up to up to six days a week at the Classical Ballet Academy, a dance school that’s a part of Ballet Minnesota in Lowertown St. Paul. Depending on the week, she puts in 16 to 23 hours at the studio.
Bailey claims that dance has not always taken up so much of her life and that, like Lars, there was a point when she was involved in a variety of extracurriculars. The difference, however, is that she wasn’t always equally passionate about them.
“I was always the kid in kindergarten who was doing cartwheels back by the goal instead of playing soccer,” she remembered.
After soccer, she tried basketball, but could not continue because of her dance schedule. Then she joined the volleyball team and once again found herself dancing on the court rather than playing.
“From there, I knew that I liked dance the best,” she said. “It’s a break from everything else that’s going on in life. I don’t have to worry about the load of homework I have to do when I get home. If something’s going on with friends, I don’t have to think about that. I’m making the choice to be there. Let’s improve. Let’s do something productive.”
Despite her appreciation for dance, Bailey acknowledges that her passion has restricted her from pursuing other interests, such as playing lacrosse and managing football. Initially, Bailey was concerned by these restrictions.
“People wonder if I want more things that I’m involved with to put on my college applications,” she said. “Freshman year, I asked my counselor if it was better to be involved with a lot things that are part time, or to be apart of something for a long time.”
Bae explained that colleges generally don’t prefer one path over the other, but rather, want students to be passionate about the extracurriculars they commit to.
Though Bailey has specified her passion as dance, she is unsure if she’ll dance at all in college. She predicts that she’ll end up a studio near her university, but doesn’t want to commit a lot of time to it.
Without the need to have a college experience shaped around dance, Bailey recognizes a broadening of opportunities, in both potential universities and majors.
She’s chosen to apply to the University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, Arizona State University and Baylor University. Initially, Bailey was reluctant to follow her sister to Baylor University, however, she promptly added it to her list of potential schools after she visited her sister there over MEA break.
“After looking at the things it had to offer and the type of school that it is, I realized it would be a good school for me,” she said. “It’s been really overwhelming realizing how many schools are out there and how many schools that I’d like to attend.”
Bailey will make many more of these realizations, once she discovers that the world that she narrowed down in high school will once again open up to vast opportunities in college.
In contrast, Lars may narrow down to a specific passion, as he marks up his calendar with his broad variety of curiosities.