Dougherty’s Mirage Clubs

Michael Tobin, Web Editor

It is an undeniable truth that DVHS students prize their grades and resumes above their very lives.  In fact, only at Dougherty do we find ourselves nodding our heads in agreement to Hermione Granger’s humorous quote, “We could have been killed, or worse, expelled.” We know that along with grades and SAT scores, the extracurriculars we list on our college applications are heavily weighted in the college admission process.  Not surprisingly, many students have devised strategies of an ethically questionable nature to pad their college resumes.  Not only do they exaggerate the quantity and quality of their involvement in legitimate clubs, they also create “mirage clubs,” that in reality do so little that they essentially do not exist.  Mirage clubs hardly ever meet and really have no intention of achieving the great humanitarian goals the club leaders boasted about on their applications.  Like the desert mirage that flickers in the distance, offering promise of water and shade, but in reality is nothing more than bent rays of light, mirage clubs are an illusion and a scam meant to impress colleges.  Because the strategy of utilizing mirage clubs for one’s resume has reached such a high level of usage in the past few years at Dougherty Valley, the school has decided things need to change.

At a recent meeting with all of the DVHS clubs’ presidents, Mr. Bowen discouraged this behavior with the story of the “donkey club,” a fictitious club devoted to freeing donkeys in South America from bondage.  This club had dedicated leadership with high hopes – hopes for getting into college, that is.  The donkey club only held one meeting, never turned in minutes, and, when asked, the president had no idea if donkeys even are present in a significant numbers in South America.  Because of “donkey clubs” cropping up with increasing frequency at Dougherty Valley, the school has decided that clubs will now be reviewed with much greater scrutiny than in past before they will be approved to operate at the school.

I applaud this new policy, though, admittedly, a shrewd and ruthless part of me bemoans this lost opportunity to get something out of doing nothing.  This fall, I too will be one of those stressed out seniors looking to get a leg up in the college admission process as I start filling out applications. We all want to get into a good college, and we all know the ante is continually being upped by students performing more and more and greater and greater feats of charity, athleticism, ingenuity, and intellect.  It is easy to feel like you’re in last place if you haven’t gone to Africa and dug a well or Honduras and built a house.  So it is understandable that many join clubs solely to boost their resumes.  In fact, I think that is still okay as long they play an active part in the club.  It’s the mirage clubs that cross the line between boosting a college application and falsifying an application.

Interestingly, many college websites advise high school students to focus on quality and not quantity.  They suggest we students join only a few clubs and make our involvement meaningful.  How we spend our time says a lot about who we are.  Colleges want to know what we are passionate about.  Ironically, though, we make it harder for colleges to decipher what we are passionate about when we divide our time between dozens of clubs.  Ultimately, when the time comes for us DVHS students to start filling out college applications, each of us will be deciding where we draw the line between legitimate bragging and creating a mirage.