Should College Students Participate in Extracurricular Activities or Focus on Degree Work

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For the past 12 years, you’ve had it drilled into your head how important good grades are and that you need to focus on your schoolwork. But what if I told you that activities OUTSIDE of academics were just as important once you get to college?

The thing is, most parents don’t mind their children playing sports, joining marching band, or even being a member of the debate team – so long as their school grades don’t suffer. In many cases, parents encourage their children to pursue extracurricular activities because some, like athletics, can lead to college scholarships.

As a college freshman, you finally get the opportunity to decide for yourself what you want your academic, social, and extracurricular schedule to look like. But some new college students have trouble deciding whether they should just focus on academic work toward their degree, or add some extracurricular activities into the mix.

There are pros and cons to arguments both for and against extracurriculars. Obviously, the biggest con against participating in them is that they take some of your attention away from your academics. And the biggest con against focusing all your energies on academic work is burnout. So, what are some of the benefits of participating in extracurricular activities?

  1. They make you more well-rounded. While you may already possess wit and charm, learning how to fit into the often complex web of society can be accomplished through team sports, clubs, or other interactive social activities. Participating in events with people who might share different backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences help you to form a better picture for yourself of how the world works and how you can personally contribute to a better society for all.
  2. It’s never too early to build your resume. Many employers like to see that their incumbents have diverse backgrounds in addition to being subject matter experts in their chosen fields. Being exposed to collaborations outside your chosen major opens you up to more creative inspiration and new ideas, which you can bring to the table as an employee.
  3. Discover new things about yourself. If you always do the same things, how can you learn about new things? Exploring extracurricular activities opens the whole world up to you through a variety of experiences. You might possess a natural talent or skill set that you’ll never discover if you don’t get outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there. While you might not enjoy every pursuit you try, there’s sure to be one that sparks your interest.
  4. They help identify your true interests. Almost nobody knows exactly what they want to do for the rest of their adult working life when they are 18 years old, but because of the way our society works, we’re forced to declare a major when applying to colleges. Participating in activities outside of your studies helps to either validate your chosen major or expose you to activities more in line with your genuine interests. Sometimes this leads to switching degree plans which can be a bit difficult administratively but can also immensely personally gratifying.

Ultimately, only you can decide what is right for you when it comes to balancing your academic course load and extracurricular activities. I recommend experimenting with different types of pursuits outside the classroom to see how much they either distract you from your studies or broaden your horizons and help you grow.

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