University life is not just about attending lectures. Outside of required classes, many extracurricular activities await students, offering opportunities for personal and social development. They also offer a chance to build skills that will benefit you in life after graduation.
These activities could include taking an online coding course; doing community service work; joining a sports team, a club or a performing arts group; creating a podcast or a website for artistic, cultural, or scientific purposes; or even launching a business.
The activity’s magnitude does not matter as much as your dedication to it and your understanding of how it affects you and the wider community on campus and beyond.
One study suggests that participating in extra-curricular activities helps university students develop a sense of identity and of belonging to a wider community, as well as a sense of well-being.
Extra-curricular activities also provide opportunities to gain experiences outside the classroom that employers and scholarship donors value. Whether you plan to enter the job market or pursue advanced studies after graduation, having extracurricular activities on your résumé will give you an advantage.
Opportunities Outside the Classroom
Extracurricular activities offer unique opportunities for personal growth while doing something you enjoy. Here are some of the most prominent benefits of taking part in extracurricular activities:
Explore your passions and interests. If you are a fan of art or music, joining a relevant club will help you meet other people with similar interests. Besides building personal connections, this will also develop your understanding of your abilities and advance them through interaction with wider community.
Improve your academic performance. An extracurricular activity helps your brain function, improving your academic performance. Sports also help you stay fit and improve your overall health.
Explore the real world. Taking a break from the demands of the classroom frees you to define your own way of understanding and making the most of your resources and potential.
10 Key Skills You Can Gain
1. Teamwork. Teamwork is an important skill in your career after graduation. Teamwork environments can enhance creativity, increase productivity, and allow each individual to focus on their unique talents. Good team members can accommodate different perspectives, backgrounds, and personalities. Apart from academic activities like group projects, you can also learn about teamwork through participation in social groups, holding a leadership position in a student organisation, playing a sport, or making plans with your peers.
2. Thinking global. Globally-minded employees can work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. University life offers many opportunities to broaden your horizons by interacting with students from different backgrounds and cultures. Engaging in such experiences with a positive attitude toward diversity increases your ability to accept differences of ideas and cultural and social backgrounds. A more accepting view of others is an important asset in a multinational job market.
3. Time management. University activities help you learn to think of time as an important resource, to be managed wisely. Developing a system to balance study, social activities, and personal time puts you more in control of your life and increases your productivity. You can use college activities to learn how to use planning tools to keep you focused. Time management is also an important professional skill that can help you complete tasks on time and within budget.
4. Digital literacy. Digital literacy means the ability to use computers and digital tools to their full potential to communicate, access and manipulate information. Most jobs today involve a variety of technologies, and most employers require job candidates to have digital literacy skills. Student activities can help you master the software used for scheduling, video-conferencing, or other applications that are likely to be useful later in your career.
5. Verbal communication skills. Communicating with others is an important skill that you can learn through activities that involve teamwork, like sports and academic clubs. Verbal communication skills allow you to describe your ideas effectively, lead others in setting goals, and help establish effective working relationships that build commitment toward reaching those goals.
6. Writing skills. Having good writing skills is also important for conveying your ideas directly and accurately. If your study schedule allows, you could add writing courses to improve your drafting, editing, and proofreading skills, or joining an online writing workshop. Other ideas for practicing and improving your writing skills include starting a blog or contributing to an existing blog that welcomes guest posts. Good writing skills are important in academia and in most jobs today. Having them will distinguish you in both areas.
7. Creativity. College lectures can help you develop creative skills by sharing ideas, asking questions, and solving problems with classmates. Extracurricular activities help develop creativity skills in a different way, as the problems you encounter outside of your academic specialty are more diverse and require more outside-the-box ideas. Doing something you enjoy that involves using your imagination will help you develop creativity, which can lead to more success in your studies and in your career.
8. Networking. Networking, also known as “relationship building”, occurs on a daily basis in our interactions with others. The communication skills you develop through interactions with like-minded people in university activities can also help you after graduation, in finding a job and building strong personal relationships with co-workers. Your undergraduate years provide plenty of opportunities to learn relationship-building skills by joining clubs and other student organisations. Attending professional conferences while studying also provides you with a great opportunity to interact with community leaders.
9. Leadership. Leadership skills include patience, motivation, decisiveness, and the ability to build and motivate a team to achieve goals. Consider signing up for a leadership or management course as an elective, or online. Such courses will provide you with theoretical knowledge, while your club or sports activities allow you opportunities to practice leadership skills outside of the classroom. Apply for leadership positions in those activities to further hone your skills. Taking a leadership role will help you learn skills that employers value, like knowing how to provide constructive criticism, delegate tasks, resolve conflicts, motivate the group, and balance the achievement of goals and challenges.
10. Professionalism. Being professional is a positive way to present yourself when applying for jobs or leadership positions. Professionalism includes how you dress, how you communicate with others, and how you present yourself in personal interactions. A professional demeanor can build respect among colleagues and improve relationships. It is one of the things companies value most in their employees.
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