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What Is the Real Value in Extra-Curricular Activities?

By Deborah Williams

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Not so long ago, high school students were encouraged to be well-rounded students with emphasis on showing that they were good students who developed their social skills through participation on sports teams, musical groups, clubs, etc.  With all the budget adjustments that school systems have been making, the extra-curricular activities have been among the casualties.  Others point to the over-scheduling of America’s children, so a reduction in extra-curricular activities could be a real benefit to them.  Actually, this provides an opportunity for everyone to step back and seriously consider the true value of extra-curricular activities.  Are extra-curricular activities really beneficial?

In her article “Academic Value of Non-Academics” June Kronholz explores this phenomenon on the Education Next website.   Kronholz explains, “…a growing body of research says there is a link between afterschool activities and graduating from high school, going to college, and becoming a responsible citizen.”  She cites U. S. Department data show that “kids with the highest test scores are the most active in afterschool activities.  Two-thirds of kids in the top quarter of test takers played sports, for example, compared to less than half in the lowest quarter.”  She also points to work done by a Margo Gardner, a research scientist from Columbia University’s National Center for Children and Families used data from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study.  Gardner found that “the odds of attending college were 97% higher for youngsters who took part in school –sponsored activities for two years than for those who didn’t do any school activities.”
The conclusion?  Extra-curricular activities are good for your college-bound child and often indicate that his or her chances for entering college are quite good.

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