Extracurricular Activity: To Join or Not to Join?
By Erin Rebello
\Whether it’s an announcement on the PA or a poster in the hallway, you’ve probably heard about your fair share of extracurricular activities offered at your school. Maybe it’s a softball team, or a robotics league, or a perhaps a math competition club. Extracurricular activities are a great way to get involved with your school and make new friends, and also look great on any resume! Chances are, you’ll find something that you’re interested in, and you’ll probably join one or more of these clubs throughout your time in school. Extracurricular activities can be a lot of fun, but before you write your name on that sign-up sheet, there are a few things you need to think about.
Where to Start
It can be a bit overwhelming to choose a club, especially when there are so many great options available. The first things you should probably consider are your passions and interests. The more interested you are in a particular field, the more fun you’ll have and the better you will do. By doing something that you love, you’ll be able to meet with people who share the same interests. Another thing to think about when searching for an extracurricular activity is your future goal in terms of a career. A lot of the time, schools offer clubs that connect to certain fields, giving students a head start in preparing for their future.
Keeping Up with Commitments
Just like everything else in life, taking part in extracurricular activities is commitment. It’s easy to sign up and say you’ll do it, but it’s far more difficult to keep your word. When you join a club or team, you’re essentially promising to give that club or team your time. Almost all extracurricular activities happen in your free time, whether it’s recess, lunch, or after school. If you know that you won’t be able to fulfil your duties as a member, it might just be a better idea to hold off on joining until next year.
Tying right in with this, it’s important to understand the requirements that the club expects of you. This includes attendance at meetings, participation in activities, training/practice, and any mandatory fees. Most clubs offer info sessions to tell students about the club, and this is a great time to ask teachers or club leaders any questions you may have.
Some great questions to ask are:
- When does the club meet? How long are the meetings?
- Are there any important trips or dates? When are they?
- What are my specific responsibilities as a club member?
- Are there any membership fees?
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of extracurriculars with all the trips, activities, and fundraisers, but it’s important to remember that all these activities are “extracurricular”, or in addition to school work. If you do poorly in school, you might even end up being kicked off the team by your school! It’s important to properly manage all your responsibilities and create a healthy balance between clubs and your academics.
What’s the Magic Number?
Though clubs are a lot of fun, it can be easy to fall into a frenzy where you join too many clubs to be able to keep up with them! A lot of kids think that joining more clubs will help them get into better programs in post-secondary or help them with getting a job when it’s simply not true. Though post-secondary institutions and hiring managers do care about your extracurriculars, they look into your contributions to your clubs rather than just the number of clubs you’ve joined. Quality is ALWAYS better than quantity, so that’s why it’s better to make a lasting impact on a few teams, rather than joining 7 teams that you can’t even keep up with!
Another good way to think about your extracurricular involvement is to use the rule of four. This rule states that you only really need to be a committed member of 4 clubs to have a well-rounded resume. The first club you join should be something you enjoy or are passionate about; this club gives you a break from a busy school life and helps you de-stress. The second club you should join is something related to the field you are interested in pursuing as a career. For example, someone interested in technology might join the robotics team. The third club you should be a part of is something that keeps you active. Proper physical activity is the key to a healthy balanced lifestyle, and a sports team is a great way to do just that! Your fourth and final club should be something philanthropic, meaning that it helps others. Volunteering is a great way to do this, and there are lots of volunteer options available for people of all ages! Keeping the rule of four in mind when joining clubs is a great way to make sure that you’re not overwhelming yourself.