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When in high school, students know that participation in extracurricular activities is a plus on a college application. It shows to a college that a student is engaged in their school, have goals and interests outside of just classwork and displays motivation and drive to go beyond just what is necessary. Yet when you get to college, there can be a hesitancy to join extracurricular activities. Many have scholarship programs where funding depends on getting at minimum grade point average in school. Some are concerned about the pressures of the increased pace and difficulty of college courses and are concerned more about just getting through classes than we are about what other things they would do in college besides classwork. Many simply do not want to overload themselves.

Certainly, it’s important not to over-commit. It’s definitely key to make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time for homework and study time. However, when we look at extracurricular activities offered by colleges, we find that they can be just as beneficial for us and our future careers as our degree will be. Here are two things to think about:

Prospective Employers

If colleges liked to see that you participated in extra-curricular activities in high school on the college application, don’t you think that prospective employers would like to see the same on employment applications and resumes? It demonstrates the same things to a prospective employer as it did to your prospective college. It shows that you have divergent interests, drive, and motivation.

In addition to that, there are often clubs and professional organizations related to your field of study from which businesses look for new employees and interns out of college. Joining one of these organizations can put you on the radar to prospective employers and help launch your career once you leave college. It can also help provide a place for the practical application of topic you are learning about in your classes, and even help you understand the material better.

Growth as a Student

College isn’t all about taking classes and studying. For most of us, it’s also an experience. One that shapes us as we become adults. College can help us evolve our general attitudes and outlook. As it expands our knowledge, it expands our world. For many, this if the first time they will be living away from home. There is an opportunity to learn how to cultivate relationships, conflict resolution, leadership skills. Looking at it from this perspective, some of the most important lessons you learn will be outside the classroom. Extracurricular activities are your chance to engage yourself and discover who you are becoming.

Balance is important. Certainly, you don’t want to join everything and find yourself overwhelmed. Yet having some extracurricular activities may actually make college less stressful. There is a social aspect to most groups that can help you decompress and take a break from the stress you are experiencing with your classes. You may be able to unwind. Intramural sports can help you keep your body moving and in shape, relieving stress and sharpening your mind. It may seem counterintuitive, but the key to avoiding burnout is often not caused by doing too many things, rather it is caused by always doing the same thing. Adding variety to your college experience will actually help prevent you from getting burned out.

Remember, that when considering your college career, it’s not all about academics. It’s about growth and experience. Don’t limit yourself only to classes. Become involved with your school. It will help you in your career and make college much more fun.