Good grades. Everyone wants them. Everyone envies those who have them. But are they really the best measurements of a student’s potential?
Nowadays, the conversation is starting to shift. In part, this is due to the fact that great or even near perfect grades just aren’t so special anymore. They have become more and more common throughout the years, and subsequently, their importance has waned.
Universities and colleges (especially in the US) have had their yearly application numbers rise incrementally. Coupled with the increasing commonality of great grades, these higher-education institutions have had to lower their admissions percentages. Subsequently, they have had to rely more and more on additional factors and considerations outside of SAT scores and GPAs. This move has earned them criticism in respect to discrimination - as highlighted by the case against Harvard. However, in order to succeed in our world, we must play their game, and it has been proven that one of the greatest factors they take into account is extracurricular activities.
What are extracurriculars (or ECs, as they are sometimes referred to)? Extracurricular activities include any and all activities that are pursued outside of school and academics. These include but are not limited to: sports, clubs, volunteer work, and miscellaneous personal endeavors (e.g. starting a business).
In addition to helping you stand out during the admissions process, extracurricular activities have many other benefits that affect your life in general. Here are just a few of them.
1. Exploring your interests and Broadening Perspectives.
Participating in extracurricular activities helps students find their passions and their interests. This is something that students have to work on during high school, and extracurriculars give those precious opportunities of discovery. It also broadens your perspective and view of the world, allowing you to grow as a person and mature your ways of thinking.
2. Social and Networking Opportunities
Being involved in extracurriculars really puts you out there, and gives you many opportunities to meet like-minded people that share your interests and want to connect with you. It also provides opportunities to network with all different kinds of people. Who knows? The extracurricular activity you have just started might just be a future career path, and networking can get you far in our world.
3. Gaining Life Skills
Third, extracurricular activities develop life skills and prepare you to take on the real world. These skills include goal setting, teamwork, time management, and leadership, among others. Partaking in extracurricular activities really opens the door for students to gain learning experiences, making yourself more ready and prepared for the challenges and environment of college, university, and beyond.
4. Better Academic Performance.
To bring it back around, extracurricular activities also have a positive impact on your studies. Exploring your passions helps you increase your brain function and creativity. It gives you well needed breaks from the monotony of school schedules, and refreshes your brain. Furthermore, taking part in sports trains mental toughness and stamina in the face of difficulties, giving you an advantage when it comes to exams and assignments. Finally, all of the aforementioned benefits tie into academic performance as well by giving you a more positive attitude towards school and pushing yourself to have higher aspirations.
Success and performance in academics and school cannot be attained by solely focusing on grades. Although grades are still important, many colleges and universities are starting to weigh other factors more heavily, and a big factor is extracurricular activities. Moreover, extracurricular activities benefit students in other areas of life as well. So next time you hear about a new club on the announcements or are thinking about trying out for a school team, take the chance. Who knows how far it will take you?