Students are often told that it’s important to “get involved” during high school, and that it will benefit them when they get to college. But what is the real benefit of extracurricular activities?
For one thing, colleges like to admit students who can demonstrate commitment to pursuits outside of their required academics. Students who participate in extracurriculars they’re passionate about, whether that’s student government, sports, the arts or performance, will have a stronger application regardless of where they want to attend. Remember, it’s quality over quantity: students who dedicate their time to a few core passions, rather than a long list of clubs that they aren’t always interested in.
Some schools or specific degree programs will require students to submit a personal statement or short essay — by participating in clubs or volunteer work, students will have life experiences to draw from so they can write a compelling personal statement.
Similarly, many scholarships ask for a personal statement or essay as part of the application. And sometimes extracurriculars can earn students money for school just by participating. RaiseMe allows students to earn micro-scholarships for things like participating in clubs, sports and volunteer activities. Lots of scholarships in small amounts can add up to covering a large portion (or even all) of tuition and fees, so finding scholarship opportunities based on participation in extracurricular activities is an easy way to qualify. Check out Fastweb, FinAid and CollegeBoard scholarship searches.
In addition to personal statements, there are many reasons why a student might need letters of recommendation — for scholarships, academic programs or student jobs — and a great way to find mentor figures who can write these recommendations is through extracurricular activities. Sports coaches, club leaders and volunteer supervisors will get to know your student and can vouch for them, as well as become a support system outside of the classroom.
Finally, extracurriculars will help prepare your student for college life. Balancing school work with other obligations is great practice for the college workload, especially if your student intends to join clubs or get a job. It also gets students used to engaging with lots of different, diverse peer groups. While students tend to interact with the same group of people every day in high school, they are more likely to have many different social circles and peer groups in college. Getting some of that experience through extracurriculars in high school will prepare your student for what the college social experience is like.