SAN SLAVADOR, El Salvador — I used to think that as long as I had good grades, I should not worry about anything else regarding high school. Well, let me tell to you how wrong I was.
It’s not only about solving algebraic equations, putting an essay together or learning the laws of physics. Your involvement in activities outside the high school curriculum is as important – if not more – as your academic performance.
But what do you actually know about extracurricular activities? Like most high school students, probably not much.
You may be questioning the importance or relevance of extracurricular activities. I mean, why should we get involved in them? What benefits do they bring? What benefits will they bring in the future?
First of all, you should know that the abilities you learn while participating in outside-the-classroom activities will help you throughout your high school life and even when you pursue a job.
Extracurricular activities help you develop leadership. Most of these actions will put you in situations in which you will be forced to make decisions. Soon you’ll find out that the pressure of extracurricular activities is beneficial to build your character and will affect the way you approach school and personal issues.
Also, you will soon learn organizational skills. For example, you might be asked to run a school event. Maybe you can finally employ your math talents and become a treasurer. Enjoy yourself writing or drawing cartoons for the school paper. You will surely find a use for your talent in the vast list of extracurricular activities. No talent? Well, it’s never too late to master one.
Another worthy – and probably the most important – reason to engage in some extracurricular activity is that your participation looks absolutely good on your college applications.
Generally, admission officers think that people with this kind of work on their resume are responsible and can manage to maintain a long-term commitment by consent. So if you are at least considering going to college, you should definitely join the chess club, become part of the student paper, work your way into the school government or simply involve yourself in any organization at your high school.
But don’t go all the way off the curriculum.
The most common mistake people make is to join every possible school activity there is. If you enjoy it and can do it, ignore this and keep it up!
There is nothing wrong whatsoever with being a multitasking young person. However, if you notice your grades going down, or you realize that you haven’t been attending the school paper meetings because it clashes with the day you are supposed to be helping the elderly after band practice, you better scale back a bit.
It is important for you to focus on what fits you.
You can’t be interested in everything. Narrow your choices by making a list of potential activities and putting the ones that best fit your interests at the top.
Then again, you shouldn’t completely limit yourself to the familiar. Always try something new. Ask yourself if you want to be a support person in some group. If your GPA allows it, you might as well use it to your advantage and become an Honor Society member.
Even if you are just looking to do spend your spare time wisely, I’m sure you’ll find something in store for you. But remember, start with simple roles inside entities and work your way up the pyramid.
Don’t expect to become school president or captain of the football team in the first few weeks. Being a member is a good start and it often gives you a better and more relaxed perspective – without the responsibility and leadership required of a president.
Another benefit of extracurricular activities is that they serve you most of the time as a social outlet.
It’s good to interact with your peers, but it’s even easier to interact with those that share the same interests you do. You never know who might be your employer in the future.
In high school it might not matter if you’re a loner, but in the real world, you need to eat and for that you need a job. It would be foolish not to recognize that acquaintances can be helpful in that field.
If all the college crap and social interaction don’t sound convincing enough, one of the obvious reasons to join extracurricular activities is that they give you something better to do than just sleeping or staring at the ceiling.
You have enough time right now. Use it wisely. Later in life you will probably be bound to a job or marriage. Have fun. Experience new grounds. Start to build a network of people.
It’s through experience that you really learn. Books will not teach you how to interact with the “real deal.”
Drench yourself with the healthy stress extracurricular activities bring. Whether you want to make your college application more appealing or your personal life more exciting, there is always a good reason to get off the curriculum.
Oscar Ramirez is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.