Are Extracurricular Activities in College Important?

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Hitting the books and earning good grades is important to your collegiate career. But being an A+ student won’t necessarily prepare you for the working world. Most employers will give more weight to skills and experiences gained than your college GPA. One of the best ways to broaden your horizons outside the classroom is through extra-curricular activities. An extra-curricular can be virtually any voluntary, unpaid group activity that fosters your talents or interests. Spending your valuable spare time on extra-curricular activities can help maximize your college years with meaningful life lessons.

Types of College Extra-Curricular Activities

Extra-curricular activities come in many shapes for college students. Perhaps the most popular kind are professional associations. Students can join industry-related professional chapters based on their academic major. These organizations connect students with field practitioners for networking and added job preparation. Membership fees may be required, but finding skill-building seminars, conferences, and internships will pay off. For instance, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has over 575 affiliated chapters on university campuses. High-achieving students can also join academic honor societies like Psi Chi or Phi Beta Kappa.

Community service organizations offer more resume-building extra-curricular activities. Nearly all colleges bring students together to engage in service learning projects. Students work closely with local, national, or global agencies to meet various community needs. For example, Habitat for Humanity chapters sponsor “build days” to erect affordable housing in poverty-stricken areas. College Red Cross organizations help support campus blood drives that give pints to save lives. Amnesty International groups also get activists involved in human rights campaigns that end social suffering.

Extra-curricular activities in college can also be simply about fun. Students who don’t land a coveted athletic scholarship can still join intramural sports clubs. Intramural athletes meet regularly to practice and organize matches against other teams. This could be a great way to stay physically active and avoid the freshman 15. Campuses offer various intramurals from soccer and badminton to swing dancing and ultimate Frisbee. In fact, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln even has a Rock Climbing Club.

Benefits of Extra-Curricular Activities

Whether you’re participating in spiritual worship groups or student government, extra-curricular activities will help build your community. Student-run clubs will connect you with peers who share common interests and beliefs. Making new friends is essential for a healthy social life, especially when you’re moving away from your family. College students joining extra-curricular activities learn how to interact with others to develop good communication skills. If you’re elected as a club president, you’ll also fine-tune your leadership abilities. Starting a “habit” for community involvement may follow you into adulthood for good citizenship.

Dabbling in different extra-curricular activities could provide eye-opening learning experiences. Perhaps auditioning for a theatre group helps you discover your love for the spotlight. Or signing up for anime club unleashes your artistic side. College clubs are designed to help you identify and foster your unique talents. Having a fun outlet for enjoying your passions can help combat collegiate stress. That’s important because there’s been a 58 percent increase in stress-related mental health issues on college campuses since 1988.

Finding extra-curricular activities can also help position you for future employment. Rich college experiences will develop the skill sets employers seek in new hires. For instance, editing your college newspaper could brighten your future in journalism. Companies want to hire students with well-rounded education both inside and outside lecture halls. Although you may think extra-curricular activities would compromise study time, getting involved may boost your academic achievement. The NCES reported that extra-curricular participants were more likely to have above a 3.0 GPA and less likely to skip classes.

Getting More Involved in Campus Life

Extra-curricular activities are one of the easiest ways for shy, young freshmen to form connections on vast college campuses. Picking from the array of extra-curricular activities offered can be overwhelming though. Most universities list student clubs and blurbs about their missions on the website. Narrow down the options based on your interests, but don’t be afraid to try something new! Consider taking an online quiz to determine which extra-curricular activities suit your personality. Take advantage of any campus fairs to learn more about student-led organizations looking for new recruits. Talk with a counselor at your college’s campus activities office for more guidance.

Remember that permanent positions with student clubs and societies aren’t the only way to find extra-curricular activities. Keep an ear open when professors discuss any temporary research studies, service learning campaigns, or study abroad trips. Meet with faculty during their office hours to get suggestions on industry-related projects. Look for fliers in your school’s student union or social media tweets about upcoming events. Even attending “cheesy” socials organized by your RA can introduce you to cool new people. It’s important for students to take charge and assertively hunt for extra-curricular activitiesfor a complete college experience.