Extracurricular activities are essential for a well-rounded college experience. They allow you to explore your interests, develop problem-solving skills, and build relationships with peers. But many new college students aren’t sure where to start or how much time to devote to school clubs and community service. If this sounds like you, don’t fret! We’ll go over some popular college activities so you can get some ideas.
How Important Are Extracurricular Activities in College?
You may have heard that extracurricular activities are good for your resume and networking. But what else? It can be the first step toward landing your dream job! Believe it or not, a high GPA is not the sole deciding factor for hiring managers. According to the NACE Center, the top five attributes that employers seek on students’ resumes are:
- Problem-solving (82.9%)
- Teamwork (82.9%)
- Written communication (80.3%)
- Leadership (72.6%)
- Strong work ethic (68.4%)
You can develop important attributes like these by getting involved beyond completing your degree’s coursework. For example, let’s say you are a member of your school’s student government. You may have to write an opinion piece for the local newspaper or give a talk on campus. These activities provide you with hands-on experience in writing and public speaking—two skills that most employers seek in candidates.
Planning to apply for graduate school? An impressive list of after-school activities gives you a competitive edge over other applicants.
Now that you understand the importance of extracurriculars for college, let’s look at six different kinds:
1. Community Service
Volunteering is a rewarding way to get involved locally. Community service takes many forms, so think about what’s in your wheelhouse and get creative with helping others! For example, if you excel in math, you could tutor other students in the subject. Is there a cause that means a lot to you? Consider hosting a fundraiser or event to raise money for it. Here are some other productive ways to give back:
- Work with homeless individuals and families
- Assist with elderly programs
- Serve at food banks
- Foster a shelter animal
- Clean up your local park
By giving your time and energy to your community, you’ll:
- Feel a sense of belonging
- Gain life purpose
- Connect with others
- Make a positive impact on the world around you
- Learn new skills
2. School Clubs
Joining a school club presents exciting opportunities for meeting new people and developing leadership skills. But how do you find clubs that are right for you? When looking for clubs to join, here are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Is the club in line with your career goals? If you aspire to be a lawyer, you might take interest in being a part of a mock trial club. Love photography? A media production club may be better for you.
- How does it fit into your schedule? Make sure your participation in extracurricular activities doesn’t interfere with your class schedule.
- What’s the club’s mission? Does it align with your values? If you are passionate about social justice, for example, think about joining a club that focuses on helping those in need.
- How can you get involved? Start by attending an informational meeting and getting to know the members. It’ll be easier to decide whether a club is a good fit if you connect with like-minded individuals sharing similar interests.
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3. Part-Time Jobs
Getting a part-time job is a fantastic way to make some extra cash while gaining valuable skills. As a college student, you may not be ready to head out into the world. But working part-time helps you develop essential skills like time management, accountability, and communication.
The career center is your best resource for discovering the part-time jobs available at your school. Some departments require students to apply either in person or through their website. Others may post job opportunities on third-party sites like LinkedIn.
Tip: Become familiar with job requirements before applying. Following directions is the key to success! Don’t forget to tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly.
Similar to a part-time job, students can gain work experience and establish professional connections through internships. Not sure what career path you want to pursue yet? Interning in a couple of different fields is a smart way to find out. As an intern, you’ll learn new things by sharing job responsibilities with a full-time employee.
It’s worth noting that not all internships are paid opportunities. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Some employers hire unpaid interns to start and transition them into paid interns or even employees. That being said, focus on getting work experience in your desired field first. An internship gives a glimpse of post-graduation life and prepares you for your first real job.
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5. Study Abroad
For many, studying abroad is life-changing. College students get to experience other cultures, realize new perspectives, and learn more about themselves outside of the classroom. Studying abroad for at least one semester can count toward earning your degree, as long as the program is accredited by your institution.
As far as deciding where to go, think about your interests and academic goals. If you enjoy learning Spanish in college, it may be eye-opening to experience life in Spain. There, you’ll get the chance to converse with locals and live like one for a full semester!
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Want to get fit and have fun at the same time? Try joining a sports team! Participating in athletics is not only beneficial for your mental and physical health, but it can teach useful skills like teamwork and leadership. College sports are plentiful:
- And more!
Working well with others is another skill that young adults can learn from athletics. Although losing is frustrating, it can motivate you and your teammates—when the game is over, everyone works harder to emerge stronger next time!
Whether you’re taking part in a game or cheering from the sidelines, joining sports allows you to form friendships and forge social connections.
Make the Most of College by Getting Involved with Extracurriculars
Everyone’s college experience is unique. At the end of the day, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Dabbling in extracurricular activities is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd, boost your chances of getting a job after graduation, and most importantly, have fun. Regardless of what fuels you, there are a plethora of school clubs to choose from!