We receive our acceptance letters to Stanford University, excited to be part of such a renowned school, looking forward to engaging in our favorite sports and dance groups. We envision all the other opportunities that Stanford will bring to the table, confident in our resume, never doubting our ability to join such opportunities. I remember arriving my freshman year, in the fall of 2010, browsing the different stands at the activities fair, eager to continue the activities I had pursued in high school. Little did I know, my visions of being fully involved on campus from the get-go turned in to a series of rejections.
The goal of higher education is to provide students with a myriad of excellent classes and diverse extracurricular opportunities, allowing students to develop a thorough skill set. At Stanford University, with over 600 clubs on campus, rejection should not be a worry. However, accessibility has become a worry. Due to the caliber of Stanford students, many of the main clubs on campus, ranging from Stanford in Government to hip hop groups or to club sports, have become incredibly competitive, desiring and accepting only the best of the best in each of these categories.
If students are looking to become better soccer players without already being a champion, joining the club soccer team is a no-go. If students are looking to improve their technical dance skills, joining the Stanford Steppers is a difficult feat. Even with political and public service interests, joining Stanford in Government is nearly impossible considering the organization’s demand for students with a leadership filled background, demonstrating experience in public service. Shouldn’t passionate, eager and motivated students be able to take part in these clubs without being rejected for not already being the “best”? Aren’t these clubs created so that students can develop a certain skill set, and not only for students who already have those skills?
Unfortunately, many of these groups have seen a competitive trend, admitting students of increasing caliber who already have the skills the group is trying to teach. As a result, students who are passionate and looking to develop certain qualities are left out of the draw. How are these students supposed to become prepared for future career opportunities and applications? Where are they supposed to receive this training?
I recognize the difficult many of these groups are faced with, only able to accept a certain finite group of individuals with an increasing demand for positions. The answer would then be to diversify our choice in the student groups we become involved in. However, sometimes the alternative to being rejected by one of the more popular groups means being part of something less serious. If it isn’t club soccer, then it’s intramural soccer, with 5 games a year. We then create a negative environment on campus, defined by a “all or nothing” mentality.
Passion and motivation should be sufficient enough to enter many of these groups. Accepting students is not contractual, and bad fits can happen. But we must give incoming students a chance to prove themselves in these groups before judging and discarding them based on a lack of past experience.