On January 1, 2018, I thought I was finally done with the stress of having to condense my exaggerated life story into a few words to be able to engage with a group of incredible people. I was wrong. Since coming to Stanford, a number of clubs and societies have piqued my interest, many of which I was eager to join, until I saw their application forms. Almost every club on campus has an application process no shorter than the Common App itself.
Nearly every club whose application I laboriously filled out, for some odd reason, asked for a fun fact. Not specifically a fun fact about myself, just “Fun fact?” What exactly is the purpose of this question? Is my admission into the club proportional to the uniqueness of my answer to it? “My hair caught fire when I was 10” makes me seem too stupid to be a part of the club, while anything associated with my previous academic endeavors makes me seem too pretentious. I have most definitely spent more time trying to answer this one question than even the more absurd ones like “If you were a vegetable, which one would you be?”
Even if you make it past the silly questions, you’re faced with the next roadblock of having to answer the “real” question. “Why do you want to join this club?” To what extent is “because I want to be rolled out” an acceptable answer? Or maybe “because I’m the only person in my class who isn’t advertising on Facebook for any clubs yet”? To be fair, it’s a perfectly understandable question. However, most answers to this question that come to mind seem too boring, generic or inappropriate to get me in.
So I’ve come up with a solution. I now have a bookmarked Google Doc of my Stanford short essays and answers. Now, whenever I sign up for a club that doesn’t have a particularly creative sign up form, all I need to do is refer to this template of answers for the most non-generic answers I can provide to their generic questions. I don’t doubt that someone, someday, is going to notice that two applications for two different clubs that they are a part of are identical. But until then, “exposure and experience” is going to continue being my answer to any club that asks me why I want to become a member.
Contact Raagavi Ragothaman at raagavi ‘at’ stanford.edu.