When you’re in the university groove, it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything else to do besides eat, sleep, study and repeat.
But no matter whether it’s through your school or your community, getting involved in extracurricular activities can give you a well-deserved break from studying, while helping you develop skills that can be just as important in the workplace as your studies.
Read on to find out how!
Extracurriculars allow you to develop skills that don’t come up in academic environments
In most cases, whether it’s a school club or a local community program, you can find a group of people doing almost anything together. And since it’s outside the classroom, they’re going to be activities that are a far cry from the researching, reading, and lab work that you have to do in your day-to-day school life, yet can still help you develop valuable skills. For instance, you could learn how to use Photoshop and InDesign while working for your school newspaper, master nautical knots as part of a sailing club, or polish your negotiation skills while playing Monopoly with your local board games club.
Many of these extracurriculars are similar to school programs in that they all have a goal to them. Just as the work you do in classes is designed to educate you, many extracurriculars are aimed towards creating something, going somewhere, or contributing to the community. These end goals are different from school in that instead of learning how to study and gather knowledge on the way like in a class, you get to learn and exercise a variety of skills that have to do with the task at hand. But in the end, it’s just the same: you’re becoming a more well-rounded, employable person, honing ‘soft skills’ like leadership and communication that many employers say are sorely lacking among recent grads.
Employes pay close attention to extracurricular activities when you’re a recent grad
Studies have shown that, in many cases, employers value the things that you do outside of the classroom just as much and sometimes even more than what you do inside of it. These activities are not just limited to extracurriculars at school – internships, volunteer experience, and sports are just some of the examples of what employers look for. In either case, employers almost always look at more than just your GPA.
When employers are looking for people to bring into their company, they want someone who can get the job done AND work well with their team – and the well-rounded portrait that extracurriculars help paint give employers a better idea of who you are. Furthermore, they’ll be looking for the sort of practical skills that extracurricular activities help students develop. Whether you’re the treasurer of your board games club, or the communications coordinator for your local sustainability organization, these roles show employers that you’re capable and have the potential to handle a full-time role.
Extracurriculars help you stay grounded
University means papers, tests, lab exercises and more. It’s one of the busiest periods of anybody’s life, and at times it can be overwhelming. And the stress can pile on: studies show that those who put themselves in high-stress situations tend to perform worse overall in those situations. That’s where extracurriculars come in.
Taking part in activities outside of the classroom is key to staying balanced. Extracurriculars can provide you with a structured environment to escape these stressors, and keep you grounded when you feel overwhelmed with academic goals. The structure that a common goal provides – whether it’s the maintenance of a club’s day-to-day operations, working on your student union, or the regular schedule of a student newspaper – can provide a routine schedule and the positive reinforcement that comes along with accomplishment. Along with that, these are usually team activities, and working together with others fosters emotional connections that are sorely needed when the midterm crunch hits. By using extracurriculars to manage your stress levels, you learn what your strengths are and what tasks stress you out – crucial factors to consider when determining your own career path.
Extracurriculars can lead you to so many cool opportunities, and the list doesn’t stop there. They’re as important to the university experience as your studies — so go check out your school’s clubs directory, read a local blog, or ask a friend, and get involved!