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Making the After School Hours Count

“So what are you doing after school?”

During the school week, by my calculations, students might have somewhere between 20-35 hours of time where they’re not in school or meant to be sleeping. Once time dedicated to homework is taken into account, that number can dwindle down to around 10-25 hours of

“free time” during a regular week of school. Once we factor in the available time on the weekend (let’s say 9am-6pm), it’s fair to say students have a solid 30-40 hours of time that they could theoretically fill up during a 7-day week.

Now, I’m always the first to remind people that nobody is expected to be productive 100% of that time. It isn’t healthy, and it’s important to factor social time, family time, digital downtime, and rest into time management. When it comes to those numbers, they’re simply different for everyone, so striking a balance is key.

As far as the on-paper productive time, there’s no perfect formula to building a standout extracurricular profile. When it comes to developing a hook, however—that activity/hobby/pastime that often becomes the heart of an application—the common pattern lies in the distinguable amount of time a student spends on their go-to activity relative to the other commitments in their life.

So when someone asks you what you’re doing after school, the answer can be sporty, musical, or artistic; it can service the community or impact one particular person; it can be tech-based or showcase business savvy. It can be as part of a team, with a best friend, or on your own. Whatever the answer, just be ready to spend considerable time committing to it, growing through it, and reflecting on it.