Setting up Students for Success
An extracurricular activity is something that isn’t done for school credit or for pay. For example, a part-time job at a restaurant would not count as an extracurricular activity, nor would an extra-credit scavenger hunt or ongoing project that’s attached to a class.
There is so much that is learned through experiences outside of the rigid rigors of the classroom. Young people need an outlet in order to learn to balance time and priorities, as well as to blossom and nurture talents that aren't in the core subjects. Very few people are actually ideal students who just love reading or math. Without extracurricular activities, students miss out on critical self-development opportunities.
Everything else that happens in a school occurs inside of a bubble, where only that student, teachers, close friends and guardians get to see the results of their labor.
Resume Builder and College Application Fodder
It makes employers uncomfortable if all a person has ever done is go to school and go home. And that can drive you did at church that one time doesn’t really count either. Rather, employers like to see richer, more varied experience than that. They want to see that you can show up on time and put in an effort that results in the accomplishment of the group’s goals.
Although the skills honed through extracurriculars are essential, you want to ensure the experience is one that will help you get a job or into a good school. There are some extracurriculars that are known for that, like the National Honor Society, for example. It’s almost like a pre-vetting tool for colleges because to get into NHS students have to demonstrate academic achievement as well as good citizenship through past volunteer activities.
Additionally, they have to get good grades and be motivated, trustworthy and responsible. And they have to keep it up while they are in the group. NHS students learn about care-taking, raising money, planning large events, and more. They are usually juggling a rigorous academic schedule at the same time.
Extracurriculars provide students with the opportunity to step outside of the of the classroom and learn how to get along without a teacher intermediary and without receiving grades for every effort.
Likely the most obvious and immediately beneficial aspect of extracurricular activities is the social interaction. Young people will have the opportunity to work with others for an extended period of time. This will teach them how to get along and be parts of a whole as they work to promote the mission of the organization. This will make them better employees and leaders later on in life.
These experiences give students a chance to meet more people, including adults who are in a position to write letters of recommendation. They may even be able to provide students with job suggestions and referrals.
Commitment to School
Extracurriculars can actually provide incentive for students to keep their marks up in school. Many extracurricular activities require a minimum GPA requirement in order for students to continue to participate. If this motivates them enough, they could even get a scholarship to an art or technical school — the next step toward building a career out of their passion.
An Enriched Sense of Purpose and Responsibility
This applies to any volunteer activity or passion project. Anything that takes planning and work and unfolds over the course of a few weeks will give young people a sense of accomplishment. For example, putting on a play or musical performance, or organizing a fundraiser will help students see the fruits of their labor and feel proud of the work they put in to bring the project to fruition.
The self-esteem of students is greatly improved by the realization that they are capable of problem-solving, leadership, communication and teamwork. Do you remember the feeling that came with building a robot from scratch, or pulling a win out of a 14-point deficit in the second half? These experiences build character and resilience.
Extracurriculars are an opportunity for students to make friends outside their normal circle, or at the very least to forge working relationships with peers. For this reason, you should ensure the organization is reputable and is run by responsible adults who are comfortable working with kids and who want to help them develop into better people.
This not only means they have the kids’ best interest at heart, but that they have some qualifications that prove they know how to bring about this positive change.
How to Choose an Activity
When choosing extracurricular activities, students should think about what interests them. In addition, students should think about why they want to be involved in a particular activity. If the reason is because it will look good on a college application, then they should take a look at the colleges and universities they’re interested in attending and figure out what the ideal student candidate looks like.
Part of the college application process involves providing your extracurricular activities. Most colleges will want to see that students have taken part in some regular form of volunteer activity, so no matter what, students should look for such opportunities. They are rewarding intrinsically, but also show prospective employers and schools that the student cares about others.
Remember that being a well-rounded student with good post-secondary prospects is about more than just extracurriculars — they have to do well in school as well. If a high schooler has a full schedule but very borderline grades, then that just shows that the students’ lacks the ability to properly prioritize. Colleges need to know that the students they are admitting are ready for college.
There will be other opportunities for hobbies and passion projects. Choose wisely and prioritize well.