Extracurricular activities can empower students to make their own decisions and help them gain vital experience and skills to lead them on the path to their future.
According to the Montana State University Extension Service, students involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to become leaders, more willing to complete tasks, more willing to voice opinions, and more likely to graduate from high school and have annual incomes of more than $50,000. Extracurricular activities are also a good way to explore social, political, and career interests.
Gain Experience through Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities help students gain experience in a variety of areas that will enhance their future. Through participation in sports, students learn cooperation, teamwork and time management. By serving as an officer in an organization, students learn responsibility, problem solving and communication. Extracurricular activities can also help students discover hidden talents, meet people they might otherwise not encounter, and learn about things outside their own environment.
How to Choose an Activity
But which activities should a student choose? Should they choose activities that use talents they already possess and meet people with similar talents, or should they choose something new and different and meet people who possess different opinions and skills? Some students are comfortable with growth while others will feel more comfortable with familiarity. If a student enjoys outdoor activities, he or she may want to look into archery clubs, horseback riding or other sports.
If a student enjoys reading he or she may also enjoy literary clubs, writing clubs or journalism activities. Extracurricular activities are also a good way to learn appreciation for new and different activities. A student who would ordinarily choose football or baseball might think about exposing themselves to archery or bird watching. Choosing something outside a student's comfort zone widens horizons and expands knowledge. Being open to new avenues by joining the newspaper staff, the computer club or the decorative painter's club will expose students to new people and new ideas.
What Activities Are Available?
Activities can be found by checking with school counselors, reading the club section of the local newspaper, calling the Chamber of Commerce, asking other students what activities they are involved in and checking with area churches. Information on volunteer activities can often be obtained from community service organizations or teachers. Teachers can be a wealth of information concerning work-study programs, internships and summer jobs; all of which help students build their resume and gain valuable experience in their career field.
If a student has already chosen a career path, extracurricular activities can help pave the way. If he or she is interested in teaching science, being an officer in the science club or entering the local science fair can show commitment. Community service at a nearby pharmacy or volunteering at a lab at a nearby hospital or plant can also give experience in the chosen field and can be included on a resume.
It’s important to inquire about the organization.
Is there a cost involved?
Will participants be asked to raise money?
How often does the organization meet?
Are evenings and weekends involved?
Are outside activities required?
How many hours will the organization’s activities entail?
Checking school and work schedules should also be done before joining any organization. Extracurricular activities are important, but they shouldn't take up all of a student's time outside the school day. There should still be time for homework, chores, relaxing, and spending time with friends and family. A combination of all these are an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Extracurricular activities should complement a student's life, not complicate it. When students are involved in too many activities or in an activity that takes up too much time, students will become stressed and grades and family relationships begin to suffer. Students should be careful not to overextend themselves by taking on too many activities or volunteering for too many jobs or committees in an organization.
Serving as an Officer of an Organization
Serving as an officer of an organization can also teach a variety of skills. Leadership and management responsibilities can be gained through serving as President. Recorders or Secretaries gain experience in writing and journalism. Treasurers gain bookkeeping and money handling experience. Each office holds valuable skills that can be used in the future.
Many students who ran for Student Body President of their school have gone on to become Chief Executive Officer of an organization or President of their own company. Running for office also gives students experience in campaign management, advertisement and people skills.
Some students may choose to get to know an organization better before becoming an officer. They will still have opportunities to serve on committees or volunteer for projects throughout the year. Teamwork, communication and organization skills are all gained by serving on a committee or working on a club project.
Learning to stick with an activity from start to finish is another important lesson of extracurricular activities. Once a commitment to a club, activity or committee is made, students should hang in there even if the activity isn't quite what they expected. By learning to see activities through to the end, students learn valuable lessons they will use later in life. They will be less likely to drop out of school, less likely to quit a job and less likely to walk away from a relationship prematurely.
Gain Vital Experience and Skills for the Future
Experience gained from extracurricular activities will follow students throughout their lives. It is surprising to note that when the top two candidates in the running for a job are closely matched, something like "Eagle Scout" listed on their resume can help decide the tie. Prestigious honors like National Honor Society, English Honor Society or Gamma Beta Phi are noticed by potential employers. They look for competent workers that are go-getters and are willing to get involved and go the extra mile. Even something like Scouting or 4-H tells employers about the person behind the resume.
Taking the time to get involved in extracurricular activities will benefit students in a variety of ways. Time away from the school day through participation in extracurricular activities can also serve as an outlet for stress and a way to build confidence and self-esteem. Students need encouragement to pursue their dreams. Not only will it empower them to make their own decisions, they will also be given a chance to gain vital experience and skills that will lead them on the path to their future.