Are Extracurricular Activities Being Pushed Too Much?

Are Extracurricular Activities Being Pushed Too Much?

The downfalls and benefits
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With college at the forefront of the minds of parents and high schoolers, extracurricular activities are being pushed more and more. The argument is that extracurricular activities look good on a college application since it shows that you're a more rounded individual or a team player.

However, teenagers are often overly stressed between social dynamics, school course loads, and their ever-changing hormones. This brings into question whether or not extracurricular activities are actually beneficial or if they are detrimental to the high schoolers that they are being pushed on.

There are some serious issues in pushing extracurricular activities too harshly on high school students. Most juniors and seniors in high school have heavier course loads. Many of the more advanced courses offered in high school are given when a student is in their final two years of school. With a heavier course load comes an increase in the hours spent on homework.

Between the time that a student gets home from school, generally around 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon, and the time spent on whatever activity the student is engaged in, homework may slip. With so little time to complete everything, stress levels may increase causing potential behavioral issues.

Another issue that is apparent is the serious lack of time to engage in social activities. Sporting events, plays, concerts, or art shows take place after school hours or on weekends. This limits the amount of downtime that a student has already.

Hours that could have been spent hanging out with friends and de-stressing are instead spent on cramped buses being chartered three hours away to a game. There are also limited hours to explore the dating scene which may also increase tension.

The benefits do however outweigh the potential issues that come along with extracurricular activities. One of these benefits ties into one of the downfalls. One of the biggest issues is time. Due to the constraints that a student may have in engaging with multiple extracurricular activities on top of school work, the student then has to learn proper time management skills.

In learning to manage their time, a key skill is developed that will benefit them in their adult years. In finding gaps in time, such as doing some homework while waiting for an event during a track meet, a student will be better able to adapt to not having parents/teachers around to remind them about time limits.

Another benefit is that students learn to be team players. Regardless of whether the activity is centered around the arts or sports, teamwork is always required. In order to create a successful play, all cast members need to be on the same page and work together to change sets or set up scenes.

In order to complete a successful play in soccer or football, the team members all need to know the plays and be able to work as a cohesive unit. Engaging in teamwork helps to set students up for the real world, and is also beneficial in teaching them how to work with others.

Overall, extracurricular activities are pretty balanced in the potential harm and good that they can do for students. The potential for good does give incentive for parents to keep pushing extracurricular activities. It may be good to keep in mind that the activities should be fun, and shouldn't be seen only as a ticket to college.

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

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