Extra-curricular Signaling in An Education
By Bryan Caplan
Jenny [girl in high school]: I’ve got an English essay to do by tomorrow morning.
Dad: Right. So, the only sound I want to hear coming through this ceiling is the sound of sweat dripping onto textbooks.
Dad: No cello.
Jenny: I thought we agreed that cello was my interest or hobby?
Dad: Well, it already is your interest or hobby. So, when they ask you at your Oxford interview, “What’s your interest or hobby?” you can say, “the Cello” and you won’t be a lying. Look, you don’t have to practise a hobby. A hobby is a hobby.
Jenny: Can I stop going to the youth orchestra, then?
Dad: No. No, no. The youth orchestra is a good thing. That shows you’re a joiner-inner.
Jenny: Ah. Yes. But I’ve already joined in. So now I can stop.
Dad: No. No. Well, that just shows the opposite, don’t you see? No, that shows you’re a rebel. They don’t want that at Oxford.
Jenny: No. They don’t want people who think for themselves.
Dad: No, of course they don’t.
Question: Is showing that you’re a “joiner-inner” just another way to show that you’re not weird? Or do schools value extraversion per se?