OPINION: Why you shouldn’t succumb to pre-professional pressure

Students from the Claremont Colleges gather for the 5C club fair at Scripps College.
At the 5Cs, it’s easy to feel pressure to join pre-professional clubs – don’t succumb to it, writes Vivian Wang CM ‘26. (Emma Jensen • The Student Life)

I’m scrolling through my computer when yet another email notification pops up: “APPLY SOON! The deadline for another consulting club is approaching!” 

Even though I’m not an economics major myself, my curiosity about these pre-professional opportunities is aroused. When frequently bombarded by glorious club advertisements and incessant deadline reminders, it’s hard to not feel persuaded. 

This is as busy a time as ever for “APPLY SOON!” emails; as the new semester kicks into full swing, 5C clubs and student organizations become alive again. Among them are pre-professional clubs: organizations where students, no matter their class year, submit elaborate applications in response to the essay prompts and practical questions given. 

The most popular pre-professional organizations are the Claremont Consulting Group (CCG) and the Student Investment Fund (SIF). The former is Claremont McKenna College-exclusive while the latter is open to all 5Cs. The clubs have a reputation for being hard to get into and, by association, being “prestigious.”

This process can be an important rehearsal for the cutthroat competitiveness of the financial industry in real life. It also draws unhealthy and unnecessary aspects of that field into college life. Regardless, it’s here to stay; and so, when applications come around, it’s crucial that we know how to handle rejection wisely.  

Streaks of imposter syndrome sometimes hit us: You feel everyone around you is constantly working, and that you’re the odd one out because you don’t seem as determined in what you do. However, this is a false notion. No external factors should determine how you acknowledge your own capabilities. You are not lagging behind. In fact, you should be marching to the beat of your own drum and not concerning yourself with other students’ interests and extracurriculars at all. 

You haven’t applied to any pre-professional clubs? Nothing to worry about. Pre-professional clubs are not an intrinsic part of college life; they can be part of someone’s college life just as easily as not. Some enjoy getting prepared for a future career, and others might want to spend a few more years concentrating on academics or just exploring interests — and that’s exactly how it should be.

You understand your own passion better than I do. If going pre-professional at such an early age is not your thing, then don’t do it. Try out other clubs and organizations that you feel connected to, such as activism, sports, outdoor activities, etc. Whether competitive or noncompetitive, creative or analytical, indoors or outdoors, all clubs and organizations are meaningful for your future as long as you derive joy and learn from them.

If you do go the pre-professional route, don’t be too frustrated by rejection. Randomness and luck are at play often just as much as skill and experience. 

Handling rejection more thoughtfully is as much about personal reflection as it is about social conversation. These clubs are often as competitive and stress-inducing as we make them out to be. Much of the time, conversations surrounding this topic wind up amounting to one student implicitly pressuring another. 

It’s normal to ask classmates what clubs they applied for, how they feel about the essay prompts and problems and how they felt their interviews went; what we need to not make normal is asking classmates about their application results and/or reacting dramatically to their response. Or, even better, talk about something else altogether, like movies, books or music, to name a few topics. After all, pre-professional clubs are about the future — and you are living in the present, in sunny California, with your friends. 

Most of all, normalize the fact that nobody knows what they’re doing and where they are going and that it’s healthy to not be actively working towards your professional future at all times.  

Vivian Wang CM ’26 is from Wuhan, China. She recently started heel dance and is loving it. Her favorite musical is Rent.

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