College Advice Blog

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Aug 26, 2012

How Many Extracurriculars Should I Take?


Everyone knows loading up your schedule with clubs and organizations can help you get into a better college. But, how many extracurriculars are enough and when should students focus on their schoolwork instead of after-school activities?
If you can handle it, there is no such thing as too many clubs and organizations to participate in. Colleges love to see students who can balance schoolwork with other activities; it shows maturity and ambition.
In fact, most colleges would rather have a student with a 3.7 GPA and high involvement than a student with a 4.0 and no involvement. However, a new study suggests you might not have to choose between either.
A study by the U.S. Department of Education indicates that students who are involved in extracurricular activities earn better grades on tests like the SSAT, despite having less time. Students who participate in band, sports, cheerleading, science club, etc are three times more likely to have GPAs of 3.0 or higher than students who do not, according to this study.
Its authors believe that extracurriculars can help students feel better about themselves, which translates into higher grades and more academic ambition. These students are also less likely to be affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Is this a correlation or causation? Does being involved in clubs and organizations actually improve your grades? Or are students who jump into these groups already ambitious and high academic achievers?
The study suggests it’s the former, and that involvement can help students better budget their time, which leads to higher grades. The general principle is that students who are not involved have all night to complete their homework and continue pushing it back. Eventually, they just half-heartedly complete it to get through it.
Students who are highly involved know they have to fully engage in their homework to finish it before practice or to get to bed at a decent time. So, they give homework their full attention.
It’s been proven (by another California Department of Education study) that after school activities can help improve brain activity, leading to more focus for schoolwork.
Just think about it this way: playing tennis makes you smarter than watching TV or playing video games does. And that’s why clubs and organizations can be so valuable for students, in the long run.
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About the Author
This guest post article was written and provided by Janice Mitchell who is a stay at home mother and has homeschooled her children with the help of VarsityTutors.com.
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