With all the academic pressure that schools put on students, sometimes we lose sight of other important aspects of life, like passion and art and sports and other intellectual interests.
Extracurricular activities are a great way for teens to find something they’re passionate about and are great opportunities for them to learn lifelong skills that will mold them into better people.
Better Academic Performance
It might be counter-intuitive but spending time on extracurricular activities can actually improve a student’s academic performance. This is good news for students who worry that participating in extracurriculars might cut in too much to their study time and their school work!
Researchers have found that students who actively participate in activities they’re passionate about, be it sports or arts or community service, have increased brain function. Participating in these activities even for just a couple of hours a week can improve concentration, problem-solving skills, and helps students learn time management.
Participating in sports has also been seen by scientists as being very helpful, as it helps teens develop mental stamina, not to mention aid in the physical development of their bodies. It’s also worth mentioning that teenagers who actively engage in something they’re passionate about are in a better mood, which helps them get through the drudgery of high school!
Studies upon studies have been conducted that show a positive correlation between academic performance and extracurricular activities. Of course, taking on too many at a given time can definitely detract from your school work, but finding one or two activities that you can do on the weekends (or even for a couple of hours every other day) can be very helpful in your studies.
Broaden Your Intellectual and Creative Interests
One of the best things about finding an extracurricular activity is discovering new and exciting things you never thought you’d enjoy. There are few things in life more enjoyable than discovering your passion!
When you engage in extracurricular activities, whether it’s sports or arts, you naturally come across opportunities to expand your perspective on both yourself and the world around you, not to mention learn more about your craft.
Depending on the activity you’ve chosen, you’ll also get the opportunity to socialize with people who are interested in the same things you are. But while you might be passionate about the same things, you’ll most likely have different views on a particular issue, which makes for great, eye-opening conversations.
Use your extracurricular activities as a way to broaden both your intellectual interests and your creative nature!
Better Mood, Better Self-Esteem
It’s a simple premise: the more you get better at something, the more success you achieve. The more success you achieve, the more your self-confidence improves.
Extracurricular activities are a great way to prove that premise. Studies have shown that teens who home their skills in their extracurricular activities have better self-esteem, which translates to better performance both academically and otherwise.
Researchers attribute this to the idea that succeeding in extracurriculars gives teenagers the ego boost they need to succeed in other aspects of life. And it makes sense: success breeds more success, and the idea of achieving something drives teens to achieve more things.
Succeeding in extracurricular activities gives teens the opportunity to master a skill in a way that is fun, relaxed, at a pace that is ideal for them, and without the pressure of worrying about a grade. Competitive activities can also be beneficial, as this teaches teenagers how to compete fairly and to learn how to win and lose gracefully.
By creating a mindset that is geared towards success, achievement, and fair competition, teenagers can develop the kind of confidence they need to excel in all other aspects of life, not just in their academics.
An Opportunity to Socialize
For some teens, making friends can be difficult. However, extracurricular activities change all of that. Because most extracurriculars, particularly sports, are group activities, it helps teach teenagers proper socialization skills.
If a teenager has more than one extracurricular activity, it gives them an opportunity to expand their social circles, with each group of friends providing you with a different viewpoint on the world. By expanding your social network, you give yourself the advantage of having friends to help you out when you look for a job.
But more importantly, making friends during your extracurricular activities helps you do two things: you’re more likely to be involved in the activity, which means you get better at it, and two, you create meaningful, human connections with people who share the same interests as you. And during your teen years, there’s nothing nicer than having a friend to lean on.
Valuable Life Skills
So now you know the psychological and emotional benefits of extracurricular activities. Let’s talk about the greatest perk of participating in extracurriculars: learning “real world” skills that will help you succeed in life.
Depending on your activity, extracurriculars offer a wide range of skills you can learn in a fun and exciting atmosphere. Some of these skills:
- Setting goals
- Public speaking
- Problem Solving
- Analytical Thinking
And many, many more. The more involved you are with your extracurricular activity, the more you develop these skills and the more they become useful for you in both the present and the future. It’s perhaps one of the best investments you can make in yourself.
And if there is no place for you to practice your passion, don’t let that stop you: start your own club. Not only will starting your own extracurricular group hone your leadership skills and proactiveness, it also teaches you organizational and management skills, not to mention learning how to socialize (to get new members), bargaining (when talking to your teachers or principal), and even learning about bureaucracies (I mean, someone has to run all that paperwork!).
Take on as much responsibilities in your extracurricular activities without cutting into your study time. You’ll be amazed at all the skills you’ll learn that you can use in the future.
Without much previous work experience, one of the only ways hiring managers can assess your ability and work ethic is through your extracurricular activities.
For example, if you were on a debating team, the manager would know that you work well with others, can argue a point professionally and have public speaking experience – all awesome skills to have in the workplace!
Why are extracurricular activities important for college applications, you may ask? Well, colleges don’t just want people who are academically excellent: they want people who are developed holistically, with proper social skills and the ability to withstand the rigors of college life.
Measuring academic standards is easy but measuring a person’s life skills is a little more difficult. Having extracurricular activities to list down in your application gives colleges a glimpse into who you are as a person and gives them a metric from which they can gauge life skills like leadership, organization, and all the other skills we listed above.
Finding something your passionate about is important in your development as a person and involving yourself with an extracurricular activity that you love gives you so many benefits outside of academics. Do you have an activity you want to share? Hit us up in the comments below!