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Are extracurricular activities important in college?

11 Jan 2017We help students

Are extracurricular activities important in college?

College is more than just a place you go to learn for four years (or more). College campuses around the world are filled with opportunities. You can find chances to get ahead in your career, make new friends, follow a passion or interest, participate in the university’s student government and more.

But are extracurricular activities important in college? That is, what specific value do they deliver? Here’s a look at different ways in which extracurricular activities can benefit you as a person, a student and a professional — as well as a devil’s advocate glance at why extracurricular activities may not be that important.

Boosting Your Career

The modern university experience is focused mostly on preparing students to head out into the real world and find fantastic jobs. Colleges help prepare students by delivering rigorous in-classroom curriculum, but they also invest in creating out-of-the-classroom experiences that can also prep students for their futures.

On many campuses, students will find young business organisations for those pursuing careers in finance, accounting and other similar industries. Students can find political party organisations for those studying political science, education groups for future teachers and more.

Each of these groups helps students develop networks, broaden their understandings of the industry, as well as to meet and connect with current professionals who may be able to provide job opportunities in the future. When it comes to boosting your career, are extracurricular activities important in college? The impact most likely varies depending on your area of study, but they sure can’t hurt.

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Pursuing Interests and Passions

College should be a place where students can learn about themselves and discover new passions and interests. After all, most undergraduate students have lived at home their entire lives.

Clubs, groups and on-campus organisations can be a great channel for discovering and fostering new interests and passions — for helping students grow personally and learn more about themselves. On any given campus you may find groups dedicated to video games, Ultimate Frisbee, religions or denominations, professional sports teams, specific hobbies and more.

Making New Friends For many students, college means travelling to a new place where they know no one. In these instances, groups, clubs and organisations can serve as an opportunity to make new friends. Fraternities and sororities are great examples of social organisations that also participate as groups in other extracurricular activities like service projects, school-wide performances, intramurals and more. Not only can extracurricular activities be a source of friends for your time in school, they can be a source of lifelong friendships. Many classmates continue to stay in touch and get together even decades after graduation. And having friends on campus gives you buddies to hang out with at homecoming or other opportunities to return to your school.

Connecting With Your School

Have you ever wondered why some alumni are so smitten with their schools? Extracurricular activities are known to deepen the bond between students and their universities. Any alumnus who loves his or her school is bound to have participated in extracurricular activities at some point.

Think about it: Extracurricular activities can help students make friends, discover passions, serve others and influence the direction of school policy and programs. These opportunities can create powerful connections that lead to lifetime devotion.

Just Having Fun

Think back to our initial question: Are extracurricular activities important in college? Maybe we should define the term “important” first. It’s certainly important that students don’t go crazy while they’re away at school and getting an education. Studies can be taxing and stressful. They can lead to late nights and early mornings and headaches that come only after hours spent reading and typing and learning.

In this sense, extracurricular activities are important simply because they give students outlets to have some fun. There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and having a good time … as long as those moments are balanced with an appropriate time spent learning and preparing for a future in the workforce.

The Case Against Extracurricular Activities

OK, so it’s conventional wisdom that there’s value in extracurricular activities. But let’s take a step back momentarily. What if your goal is to get a great education and then to leverage that education to secure a great job? The global economy is changing from one focused on manufacturing to one focused on information, knowledge and skills. In this new economy there’s less of an emphasis on soft skills like sales and networking and more of an emphasis on hard skills like coding and programming.

It’s possible that this new economy could lessen the importance of extracurricular activities. Given the state of the global economy, employers will want students who can get the job done — not students who joined the rowing team.


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What Will You Choose to Do?

The ultimate answer is only available on a student-by-student basis. You have a unique path and a unique situation, and you must make your own choice as to whether or not clubs, organizations and groups are right for you. Are extracurricular activities important in college? Only you can decide. But know that you enjoy many options, such as:

  • Student government
  • Diversity groups
  • Professional clubs
  • Intramurals
  • Service organizations
  • More

Whether you’re heading to college soon or already there, spend some time reflecting on your own goals and priorities. That reflection time should help you answer the pressing questions as to whether or not extracurricular activities are important in college.


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