Why You Need To Focus on Extracurriculars In Your SKA-APP Portfolio Roadmap

The Case for Keeping Extracurriculars

By June Kronholz

The National Center for Education Statistics, […] has found that high-school seniors who were involved in school activities were less likely to cut class and play hooky than kids who weren’t involved. Three times as many had a GPA of 3.0 or higher; twice as many scored in the top quarter on math and reading tests. And 68 percent expected to get a college degree, compared to 48 percent of kids who weren’t involved in school activities.

“Honestly, the place that best prepared me for college was the hardwood court of men’s varsity basketball” in high school, Andrew Snow, a University of Michigan senior and pre-law major, e-mailed me recently. “That court taught me hard work, sacrifice, teamwork, humility…and leadership,” he added, plus, “how to deal with people in social situations” and “responsibility off the court [because] if you made a bad decision, someone would see it.”

Cause or Effect?

The U.S. Department of Education last compiled data on extracurricular activities a decade ago, when it reported that more than half the country’s high-school sophomores participated in sports, that one-fifth were in a school-sponsored music group, and that cheerleading and drill teams, hobby, academic, and vocational clubs each involved about 10 percent of kids.

[…Using data from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), and controlling for poverty, race, gender, test scores, and parental involvement, Gardner has calculated that the odds of attending college were 97 percent higher for youngsters who took part in school-sponsored activities for two years than for those who didn’t do any school activities.]

[…] extracurriculars “teach a lot of the skills you need as an adult: time management, leadership, self-discipline, and persistence for doing work that isn’t extrinsically motivated.” That dovetails with Wagner’s academic work, which defines the “skills of the future” as including adaptability, leading by influence, and initiative.

“Kids who have a significant involvement in an extracurricular activity have a capacity for focus, self-discipline, and time management that I see lacking in kids who just went through school focused on their GPA,” he told me. Like Gardner and Duckworth, he doesn’t single out football players over the engineering team, or vice versa. The kind of activities “seems not to matter; what matters is the level of engagement,” he said.

Read rest of the story here.

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