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.