Many high schools across the nation are becoming increasingly academically competitive. This sense of academic competition and pressure to perform academically is instilled during many high school students’ freshman year or earlier. Therefore, it is of small wonder that many students beginning their first year of college place unrealistic expectations on their academic performance, resulting in a loss of interest in other university-based activities. Unfortunately, students who focus all of their time, effort, and resources into academics may be missing out on a valuable learning tool: social and community involvement. This essay will discuss the benefits of such involvement, and highlight the reasons why it may enhance the overall university experience.
Extracurricular activities in college are varied – students can choose between intramural sports, Greek life, religious student organizations, volunteer-based organizations, and myriad of other offerings. These extracurricular activities can provide learning opportunities necessary for success in "the real world" that simply cannot be taught in a classroom. Through social and community involvement students have the opportunity to gain social skills, experience in leadership, future resume material, and a healthy mental and emotional well-being.
As a society, we often overlook the importance of social interaction and social practice for young people. Students who join on- or off-campus groups, clubs, and activities are forced to interact socially with the other members of that group. Developing strong social skills is necessary for a student’s future success in the job market. When searching for a job, we have all heard the common phrase, "It’s not what you know, it’s who you know." This is a great example of how strong social skills translate into positive networking skills and therefore, success in a future career.
College student involvement in extracurricular activities, specifically on-campus clubs, provides ample opportunity to develop leadership skills. Many clubs and organizations elect club leadership, such as club presidents, vice-presidents, secretaries, and treasurers. Through these leadership roles, students learn teamwork, how to manage conflict, professional representation, and public speaking skills. Bringing strong leadership skills to the workplace will be a key to success in any company. If students learn to organize groups of people and manage small-scale clubs and organizations, they will be significantly more prepared for leadership positions in future careers than their purely academic counterparts.
Community and social involvement is also compelling resume material. After graduation, students often complain that all of the available jobs request candidates with experience. Participating in community volunteer activities is an easy and effective way to gain “real world” experience. In addition, many large companies are currently seeking employees who are community-minded. Showing a strong sense of community pride through extracurricular volunteer activities might be the winning ticket to hiring on with a top company.
Finally, it is important for all college students to seek healthy mental and emotional well-being. Students beginning their college career experience many changes and challenges. For the first time, students are self-sufficient and managing their own schedules. Students are often unfamiliar with the city and the people with whom they are surrounded. In addition, they are adjusting to a more rigorous academic environment. For some students, these changes can cause stress and anxiety. For a positive college experience, it is important that students seek a healthy balance between work and play. This translates into taking pride in academic work, but also making time for social and community activities. By taking this approach, students will be healthier and happier.
This article was written by JR Olson for the team at Kendall; contact them to learn about their Illinois teacher certification degree programs.