Quitting activities allows students to pursue different interests

February 9, 2017 — by Alexandra Li and Katherine Zhou

Students begin to quit activities to pursue other more important ones. 

One of the greatest coaches in NFL history, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Most people have heard and understood this truism, but for students, it’s not always true.

This year, for instance, junior Varun Viswanath quit soccer to focus on his heavier course load. Viswanath has been playing soccer since age 4, and once he entered high school, he wanted to complete the two-year physical education requirement by joining the JV soccer team.

As a junior, though, he felt he didn’t have the two extra hours in his schedule each day during the winter season to compete in the sport.

Viswanath believes that too many students stick with activities they find themselves hating in order to fulfill course requirements or to look appealing to college admissions officers.

“Obviously, it’s not good to do an activity just to complete credits, but if you think it’ll show dedication and you don’t entirely hate it, and you think it’s beneficial to you without affecting your performance in other activities, then go ahead and stick with it,” Viswanath said.

Sophomore Sasha Pickard, who currently plays soccer, cross country and track, also had to make adjustments in her school life to keep a less stressful schedule.

After taking all the prognostic tests and receiving recommendations from her biology teacher to take Chemistry Honors, Pickard added the class to her schedule, choosing to focus on Chemistry instead of taking Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus Honors.

“Everybody wants to take the highest courses, and the people that don’t are made to feel kind of dumb or not as good as the kids that do,” Pickard said. “Often, parents want you to take the honors courses, which is another reason I took it.”

Last semester, she managed to push through Chemistry Honors but chose to drop the course for the spring semester after realizing that she simply did not have enough time in her schedule to continue the time-consuming course.

“I wish that I dropped the class in the beginning of the year,” Pickard said. “Part of it was pride, because I didn’t really want to drop, but another part was that I didn’t want to feel as though I’d quit trying after those first two weeks. Even after the [difficulty of the] first test, I wanted to stay with it the whole semester.”

Pickard recalls one specific night during the fall season. She came home at 8 p.m., exhausted after powering through a cross country meet and a difficult soccer practice. After a wolfing down a quick dinner, Pickard opened her planner to find she had a Chemistry Honors test the next day and a Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus test immediately following after. By the time she closed her binders and was satisfied by the amount of studying she had done for both tests, it was nearing the crack of dawn.

Since many of Pickard’s friends were already taking college preparatory Chemistry, her parents and friends were supportive of Pickard’s decision to drop Chemistry Honors. Her parents also agreed with her decision to quit so that she could make more space for soccer, cross country, Rally Commission and her other extracurriculars.

“I don’t have a lot of time to study and that was really affecting my grade in the class, so I just felt like it would be easier if I just took the regular course because it has less homework,” Pickard said.

So far, Pickard doesn’t regret her decision, since she is able to make more time for her other priorities such as studying for her Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus class.

Even so, Pickard sees a stigma against quitting difficult classes in the school’s culture.

“[Many students at our school] take courses that they’re not really ready for or that they shouldn’t really be in,” Pickard said. “They think that they need to take them in order to get into a good college or to make their parents happy.”