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If ('you' OR 'it') did not happen to be involved in any extracurricular activities,... Options
A cooperator
Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2018 5:35:09 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/27/2011
Posts: 2,878
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Location: Ḩāḑírah, Hadramawt, Yemen
Hi Everyone!
I've been thinking of if the subject of if-clause can be 'it' or 'you' as written. May I know why it must be 'you'?.
If it had been written as 'If you didn't need to be involved in.....', then I wouldn't have been confused with (if 'you' or 'it').

If you did not happen to be involved in any extracurricular activities that are relevant to your future schooling, perhaps you can focus on what you consider to be your major accomplishments.


Why did the author let it be a longer phrase, and not simply say "If you're not involved in....."?

Whoever doesn't own what he promises to those who do not deserve must not promise it.
RuthP
Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2018 7:11:45 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/2/2009
Posts: 5,147
Neurons: 57,080
Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
A cooperator wrote:
Hi Everyone!
I've been thinking of if the subject of if-clause can be 'it' or 'you' as it was written. May I know why it must be 'you'?.
If it had been written as 'If you didn't need to be involved in.....', then I wouldn't have been confused if 'you' or 'it'.

If you did not happen to be involved in any extracurricular activities that are relevant to your future schooling, perhaps you can focus on what you consider to be your major accomplishments.


Why did the author let it be a longer phrase, and not simply say "If you're not involved in....."?

First things first. The subject is "you", not "it", because you are talking about a person. And the sentence is actually tells the reader the student was not involved in relevant extracurricular activities, and implies it would have been better if the student had been involved (in relevant extra . . .).

The longer phrase was likely intended to be gentler. The first part of the sentence basically says "You weren't doing anything related to your desired major other than going to class." Depending upon the circumstances, that could be a pretty severe criticism.

For someone applying to a college as a freshman, it would probably not be a problem. Most colleges wish to see "well rounded" students, who participate in a wide range of activities. If, however, we were dealing with a law school applicant and the student had listed sports and playing in jazz band as extracurricular activities, that would not be so good. At the level of law school, one would wish to see things like debate team, or school government (in addition to sports and jazz band).

When the writer says "If you didn't happen to be involved with . . .", the writer takes it out of the active "You didn't do something you should have done" and puts it into the more passive "If this is something that happened, then what can we do". The writer is trying to (more gently and politely) say to the student is this:
Since you do not have the kind of extracurricular activities that would make your application look better, let's see if you have done something else that would impress the admissions officer.

And, there might be a point to this. It is possible (not terribly likely I think, but possible) that the student read "extracurricular activities" and thought only of school-based activities (like debate club, or sports teams). Given a little push by the writer, the student might say "I organized all the volunteers and ran the finances for Senator Joe Blow's last campaign." That would certainly count as relevant.
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