The Urban Quitting Conundrum

“Quitters never win” and “It’s always too early to quit” are common expressions people hear everyday. The idea that someone who quits is bound for failure is a common belief within our culture, ultimately making people feel stuck and required to continue an activity. But what if someone wants to quit? Quitting can be particularly challenging with college applications in mind. Everyone likes adding things to their resumé, as college applications have room to show what an incredibly well-rounded student you are. So why do we, ambitious Urban students, quit our extracurriculars?

According to Hana Rivers (‘16), her decision to quit track “was kind of about self care. I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life at that time… so I had to take into account all my responsibilities and prioritizing which were the most important for me.”

”I’ve blocked out 5 hours every night that is my homework time and I’m afraid of having stuff that messes with that” said Larkin Levine (‘17) on why she quit her extracurricular.

However, what about the students who don’t quit their activities? “There’s … kind of a bad rep for someone who quits something,” said Kara Fleishhacker (‘16). “It’s like if you don’t [try the activity] at all, no one says anything, but if you try and then decided you can’t, it’s weak in some way,” she continued.

The students who identify as quitters gave great reasons behind why they quit, but so did the non-quitters when asked why they pursue their activities.

“The only reason I didn’t [quit piano] was because my parents didn’t allow me. I’m … grateful that they forced me to do it because now I appreciate it so much,said Jade Barnblatt (‘18).

“I think that in the long scheme of things, I’m not going to remember sitting at home doing homework, I’m going to remember softball and whatever else I do,” added Fleishhacker.

One big motivator for students who didn’t quit was the possibility of leadership roles. “Leadership roles are good for college apps. I’m just going to put it out there,” said Urban alum Olive Lopez (‘15), like several of the upperclassmen interviewed.

Every interviewee I spoke with said that they factored college applications in their decision to join or quit activities. So, I paraded myself over to the college counseling offices.

Susan Lee, director of College Counseling, shared with me her insights about the admission process: “I think a list of activities is not the main thing that colleges are looking for. What they want to see is people who are doing things that they love and doing them really well.

When asked about doing extracurriculars that don’t engage you, Lee continued “it’s important to keep in mind that [there are] people who are reading the applications … their purpose is to get to know people in an authentic way.”

If you are pursuing an activity you don’t enjoy just so you can add it to your resume, stop. However, continue to try new activities and pursue different interests. Quitting is always an option, but I recommend you take a critical look at your situation before doing so. As Rivers put it, “If colleges don’t accept me because I didn’t do track all four years, then sucks for them. I feel like I wouldn’t want to go to a college if they were like, ‘well, you didn’t do track all four years so we’re not going to accept you!’ That’s stupid.”