Can participating in extracurricular activities and athletics actually improve the educational experience and prepare students and student-athletes for the future?
Extra curricular activities, including sports, have become an important aspect of the lives of so many high school students in the United States. In fact, most colleges and universities include extra curricular activities on their applications in hopes of attracting the most diverse and well-rounded individuals. With that in mind, higher education has seemingly declared extra curricular activities a necessity, but are they adding to the increasing workload of high school students? Or are they encouraging them to push themselves and become better students and attractive individuals for colleges and the future workforce?
In a research study done by The University of Southern Mississippi, “The Effect of Extracurricular Activities In the Educational Process: Influence on Academic Outcomes,” results showed that extracurricular activities did indeed influence academic improvement. The study could not pinpoint the exact factors that foster improvement, but in general, it found that participating in extra curricular activities did not hurt, but in fact, actually improved the educational experience.
In another study, “Active Learning in Higher Education,” the researcher studied extra curricular activities in higher education and found that they significantly increase job opportunities and prospects. Research indicates that not only is participating in extra curricular activities and sports important for your development now, it can also be used to your advantage for future jobs and opportunities. Getting involved in activities beyond the classroom lets prospective colleges, recruiters and employers know that you possess multi-tasking and time management skills by being able to keep up with school work as well as athletics, organizations and more.
Many people already know the benefits of participating in athletics. Not only does one learn about the fundamentals of the sport, but he or she also learns important values such as integrity, humility, discipline, self-confidence and responsibility. Research specifically indicates that sports and games can promote the much-needed team spirit among students. Also, group skills like leadership and belongingness develop through such activities. Some experts feel that sports can help instill in student-athletes the spirit of sportsmanship, which the LHSAA recognizes with its Sportsman of the Month program and the Spirit of Sportsmanship Award it extends each year.
Extra curricular activities present an opportunity for students to improve their overall educational experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your grades will significantly increase by taking on more than you can actually handle. But by choosing to participate in a couple of activities that you have a passion for, you can certainly enhance your educational experience, and the life skills you will learn along the way can help prepare you for the path you take when your high school career ends.