There are many variables that can influence a student's academic performance in school. Good study habits, recreational reading, and whether or not the student ate breakfast that morning are all examples. Another very important factor is the student’s participation in extracurricular activities.
Studies have shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities do better in school than students who do not participate. This is why extracurricular activities should be a part of everyday student life. It is important that you understand how and why extracurricular activities can help you succeed academically as well as what pitfalls to avoid.
Most of the information you’ll find regarding the benefits of extracurricular activities centers around how they look on a college application. Having extracurricular activities does give your application more depth and shows colleges you are a more well-rounded student, but those aren’t the most important benefits. The most important benefits are how they positively affect your grades and test scores; which college admissions consider before anything else.
High Attendance Rate and Grade Point Average
Research has shown that participating in extracurricular activities increases attendance rates, and students with higher attendance rates have been shown to have a higher grade point averages (G.P.A.). This is due to many school-based activities requiring students maintain a minimum G.P.A. as well as a high classroom attendance rate. Activities outside of the school usually have attendance requirements as well. Students learn through these activities that attendance is a prerequisite for achievement.
Students participating in extracurricular activities have more opportunities to learn and develop positive character traits and life skills. Some examples of these positive traits and skills are socialization, teamwork, leadership, discipline, and time management. There are many more they will learn, but more important is they will take these traits and skills into the classroom helping them to succeed. Conversely, students can take what they learn in the classroom and reinforce those lessons through their extracurricular activities.
Overall, involvement in extracurricular activities is positive but not all activities are created and run equally. Be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
Quality of the Activity
Like anything else, quality matters. Activities that lack structure and are poorly supervised do more harm to students than good. It is important to evaluate your extracurricular activities before and during participation. If you feel the activities are not beneficial to you, then it is time to find another activity. There are plenty out there for you to experience.
Spending Too Much Time on Activities
Remember, the most important factors in college admissions revolve around academic performance. Grades and test scores should never be sacrificed for extracurricular activities. Avoid over-committing yourself with the amount of activities you participate in. Choosing one or two to juggle throughout the year will keep you busy enough, especially alongside your academic studies. You'll also find that by focusing on one or two activities you will have a better chance of excelling in them than if you were to spread yourself too thin.
If you're having a hard time narrowing down the choices, reach out for advice for teachers, your parents, or your college counselor to choose the best activities for you without getting burned out from an over-packed schedule.