So many choices can seem overwhelming but getting involved in new activities with new people is a fun way to challenge yourself.
You can do extra-curricular activities by joining your school team in playing basketball, baseball, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball but if you are not into sports, you could try the debating team, chess club, environmental club, drama, choir, photography, HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns, music band, computer clubs, and more. Here are some basics and benefits of getting involved.
Benefits of extracurricular activities
- You get to explore your physical, creative, social, political and career interests with like-minded people.
- You’ll find friends: Trying something different may bring you in contact with people you didn’t know who share your interests and curiosity.
- A club or group also can be a great way to meet people who are different from you. Lots of youth programmes bring people together with those who are different as a way to break down the barriers between people.
- It looks good on college and job applications and shows admissions officers and employers you’re well-rounded and responsible.
- Specific activities help with specific goals, if you want to teach language or get a bilingual job, being the president of the language club shows the depth of your commitment.
- The most basic reason for joining a club or team is that it gives you something better to do than staring at the wall, wandering the hall or napping all afternoon. People who are involved and engaged are less likely to become addicted to bad habits, like smoking or drinking.
Finding the right activity for you
- Review the activities your school offers and listen to other students’ experiences to find an activity that meets your needs. Think about your interests, abilities and time and don’t limit yourself to the familiar, try something new.
- Think about different roles within groups that you might want to try, it can be president, captain, participant, leader, support person. Each role is important. Being president teaches you leadership and management skills, but involves more responsibility; being a member gives you structure and is less stressful. You can also lend your skills in areas that are needed, such as using your financial skills to be the treasurer.
- Try a community centre or volunteer for a local non-profit organisation or business. Also consider organisations like Youth in Action, a group for teens who want to participate in service projects.
Too much of a good thing?
- Ask as many questions as possible before you join. Sit down with your school schedule, work schedule and other activities and try to map out what’s realistic. Are you taking a class this semester that requires extra studying time? Do you need to focus on grades? Does your bus only come once an hour by the time practice is over instead of every 15 minutes? Will you have time to eat, sleep and relax? Everyone needs downtime. If an activity adds lots of stress to your life, it’s not for you.
- Once you’ve joined an activity, if you feel stressed out, reconsider. It’s important to keep a balance between schoolwork, extracurricular activities, a job, social life and your health. If you join a club and need to quit for any reason, talk with the advisor or coach. Be direct and polite and explain your situation and feelings. Sometimes it’s just not the right match for you or it’s too time-consuming. Perhaps you can participate in a less time-consuming way or re-join later. You won’t be helping yourself or the group if you frantically do homework during a competition or fall asleep during practice. Saying “no” can be the most mature and responsible thing to do.