If you’re looking to learn about the benefits of extracurricular activities, you probably already know how valuable they can be. But what exactly are extracurricular activities, and just how important are they?

“Extracurricular activities” refer to any regular activities that you commit to outside of the regular school curriculum. This can mean involvement with any number of clubs, teams, associations, and charities.

Activities such as theater and sports qualify as extracurriculars. Even self-driven pastimes, such as writing and moviemaking, count. This is also dependent on how long you spent on them.

The college admissions process plays just a small part when it comes to extracurriculars. Here are five reasons to help make your decision a little easier.

1 – Colleges Take a Close Look at Extracurriculars

Most people know that colleges generally consider extracurriculars as a standard part of the college application process. What exactly are they looking for? Extracurriculars that relate to your intended major and professional goals have a clear value. Most experts agree that the activity you choose to engage in is far less important than how seriously you take that activity. In short, when it comes to extracurricular activities, quality beats quantity every time.

Devoting your time and energy to one activity, maybe attending competitions or winning awards, is what colleges want. Making sure you get the most of the experience is what will translate on a college application and help you stand out in the crowd.

2 – Extracurriculars Can Help You Pay for College

Paying for college can be a lot, but extracurriculars can help ease that burden. An afterschool job is a great way to save money for college, but that’s not the only way that extracurriculars can help. We all know sports are a big driver for college scholarships, with over 2.9 billion being given out every year! Still, sports aren’t the only extracurricular that colleges and foundations give out money for.

There’s a scholarship or grant for almost any extracurricular you can think of. Even just participating may be enough to get you some extra money to pay for college. Some extracurriculars also have competitions where you can win money specifically for your college education. To get a better idea about how your favorite pastime can financially support your college education, a little bit of online research can go a long way.

3 – Extracurriculars Can Further Your Career

Extracurriculars can help students succeed far more than just in the academic setting. Whether you are in high school or college, they add a tremendous amount of value to any professional resume. This is true of resumes that detail extracurricular work related to your chosen industry or field.

Extracurriculars also offer valuable opportunities to connect with other people who share similar interests. This allows you to easily practice your networking skills, expand your circle of peers, and partner with individuals who may become key assets during future employment searches.

4 – Extracurriculars Can Boost Academic Performance

Students tend to worry that participating in extracurricular activities will take time away from schoolwork, damaging their overall grades. In reality, many studies have shown that students who participate in extracurriculars not only achieve higher marks but have better attitudes about school and higher academic goals.

When you engage in extracurricular activities, you can boost your brain function, achieve higher levels of concentration, and improve your time management skills. They can also help you face difficulties and overcome challenges head-on, both of which occur regularly in the academic and professional setting.

5 – Shape Who You Are Through Extracurriculars

Despite all the value that they present to schools and employers, extracurricular activities are all about you and what you are looking to get out of your time.

High-endurance sports, for example, can teach you to remain patient and resilient when confronted with hardship and struggle. Participating in a debate or on a speech team can allow you to build communication skills that will serve you in any number of professional or private contexts.

Extracurriculars also allow students to explore interests and test skills outside of the academic environment. By joining the math club, a star math student can better determine whether a mathematics career is right for them. Likewise, a student who has never tried writing a news story before can get a better understanding of journalism by volunteering for the school paper.

The Bottom Line

Although extracurriculars are valuable for all the reasons above, remember that extracurriculars are “extra”. In other words, not every student will have the time and money that they need to participate in extracurricular activities. Still, this situation is nothing to worry about.

A lack of extracurriculars on a college application won’t disqualify you from admission. But, when it comes to separating you from the rest of your peers, one or two committed and relevant extracurriculars can go a long way.

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