Over time, we have all heard about the virtues of extracurricular activities and, in fact, recent research suggests that participation in extracurricular activities (ECA) may increase students’ sense of engagement and attachment to their school, and thereby decrease the likelihood of poor grades and other problems such as dropping out.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, though, as these out-of-school activities have numerous benefits for young people. Below, we will point out some of the wonderful perks that come from participation in ECA.
They boost your college app and resume: In a practical sense, students in high school should be forward-thinking about college and the steps it takes to get there. In addition to grades and academic performance, participation in ECA is highly valued by colleges and universities. They will, indeed, play an important role alongside academics. The great news is that there is no “right” ECA for a college application; in fact, schools value the quality of the activity over the quantity. So if, for example, you’ve spent your high school years committed to one ECA that you firmly believe in, that’s going to look pretty good to schools you apply to. Painting yourself as a “well-rounded” student, with a mix of academics and other activities is important to making yourself desirable to colleges.
They build self-esteem: Confidence can be a fleeting thing for young people. In the stages of self-discovery, it can be hard to know exactly who you are and what you stand for, and that’s ok. But as students participate in groups and activities, self-esteem begins to increase through the building of social skills, the sense of inclusion, and the development of personal talents and recognition of students’ strengths. Though it can be frightening to try something new or to join a new group, the benefits for a youngster’s self-esteem vastly outweigh the risks.
They promote diversity: ECA offer an opportunity for personal growth and development. An ECA like Habitat for Humanity, for instance, can expose young people to diverse populations and different socioeconomic groups with which they had not been previously familiar. This can lead to a better understanding of the world around the young person as well as the social challenges that we face. This, then, creates global citizens who are ready to go out into a changing world with an empathic understanding of different peoples and cultures.
Contribution to society: Along with promoting cultural understanding, ECA allow students the chance to give back. When young people begin to view the world beyond their own individual experience, they truly begin to grow. I’ve worked with many teens who have fervently participated in causes like Operation Smile, Relay for Life, local food banks, social agencies and shelters, among others and these young people were inspired and energetic about their causes. Through ECA, not only are students reaping personal benefits, they are also making the world a better place.
They can keep you healthy: Getting out of the house is good. Being busy can keep kids healthy, fending off problems like obesity, depression, oppositional behavior, and poor school performance. ECA can keep young people engaged and less likely to fall victim to boredom that can lead to other problems. Studies have shown that ECA are good for students’ mental health, as they promote social competence and lead to less negative effects of peer pressure.
They are connected to success in school: Because ECA require students to plan, prioritize, and practice good time management, they can translate into academic success. They lay a foundation for students to be skilled at meeting deadlines, working collaboratively, and overall better performance. Indeed, those students who partake in ECA are typically less likely to have poor attendance, low grades, and subpar performance on standardized tests.
We can safely say that participation in ECA is an overall benefit to students. With busy schedules, though, it is important to not let other important things fall to the wayside. Be sure to seek out help for balancing the busy life of a student who participates in multiple activities to ensure a happy and healthy school career. At iAchieve, we can help you stay organized and successful while you are busy being a well-rounded student!
Written by Phil Lane
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