Extracurricular activities are activities that fall outside the scope of your regular curriculum. However, simply playing soccer with your friends on the weekends for fun isn’t actually an extracurricular activity, even though it has nothing to do with school.
Extracurricular activities require a regular time commitment and initiative such as being on a sports team, playing the violin in the local orchestra or taking extra courses.
Some students worry that participating in extracurriculars may take away too much time from their schoolwork, thus hurting their grades; however, extracurricular activities can actually improve your grades and your outlook on school in general!
Participating in activities you are passionate about can increase your brain function, help you concentrate and manage your time better, all of which contribute to higher grades.
When you participate in multiple different activities, you’ll get the opportunity to explore a range of interests and unlock passions you never knew you had!
Plus, diversifying your interests subsequently broadens your world view.
The more you achieve success through activities you’re passionate about, the more your self confidence will improve.
Working hard and mastering new skills in a fun, relaxed – and sometimes competitive – setting allows you to be successful without the pressure of getting a good grade. Plus, once your confidence improves, you’ll be more open to taking risks in all aspects of your life.
Let’s be honest, making friends can be hard but one of the easiest ways to make friends is through extracurricular activities!
Each extracurricular you engage in provides you with another opportunity to expand your social network, which will also come in handy when you’re looking for a job.
On top of all of the benefits of extracurricular activities we already talked about, one of the greatest advantages extracurricular activities give you are “real world” skills.
These skills include (but are not limited to):
The more you push yourself in your extracurricular endeavours, the more you’ll develop these skills. You could take your passion even further and create your own club, where you’ll develop goal setting, time management, prioritisation, leadership and public speaking skills.
Last but not least, university applications!
Well, it is usually the case in many countries, like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand, but I’m talking about US and UK university applications. It’s pretty much impossible to get into any university in the US or UK without extracurricular activities.
Universities in the UK want to see that you’ve gone above and beyond in your intended area of study and have made a difference and/or excelled your field.
If you want to major in chemistry, a UK university is more likely to accept you if you’ve joined a chemistry club, taken extra chemistry courses at your local university and volunteered in a lab.
Although that sounds like a lot, extracurricular activities are even more important to US universities. In fact, extracurricular activities and leadership account for about 30% of your application!
A quick note if you’re considering the US study path:
US colleges want to see very specific things from your extracurricular activities. Make sure your activities are ticking the following boxes to increase your chances of getting in:
1. Longevity: You stick with one type of activity rather than joining a new activity every week and quitting one every other week.
2. Passion: You truly care about your extracurricular activities and aren’t doing them just to get into uni.
3. Leadership: You have taken the initiative to become a leader within your activities and community.
Unfortunately, extracurricular activities often come at a price. Innovative extracurricular activities such as producing films come with camera, makeup and location costs. Even sports teams come with a plethora of costs!
While you may be interested in hundreds of activities, it’s important to only take on as much as you can handle. If you oversaturate yourself with extracurricular activities, they’ll stop working for you and start working against you.
So go join a club, start an online class or volunteer. What are you waiting for?