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Athletics Director, John Amosa, shares What research says about student participation in activities and how this impacts overall student success and well-being

February 28, 2024

Research has consistently shown that student participation in activities is positively associated with student success and well-being. Students participating in extracurricular activities tend to have higher grades, better test scores, and lower dropout rates. They are also more likely to attend and graduate from college.

In addition to academic benefits, student participation in activities can lead to improved social and emotional well-being. Students who participate in activities are more likely to have a sense of belonging and connection to their school community. They are also more likely to develop leadership skills and learn to work as part of a team. Furthermore, extracurricular involvement contributes to a student's holistic development. 

Numerous studies have explored the correlation between student activity participation and overall success and well-being. While the findings may vary based on the specific context and types of activities, there is a considerable body of evidence suggesting positive associations. Here are some general trends:

  • Academic Achievement:
    • A study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that participation in extracurricular activities is positively associated with academic achievement. Students involved in such activities tend to have higher grade point averages and perform better in standardized tests. A study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that students who participated in extracurricular activities were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.
  • Social and Emotional Well-being:
    • Research published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology indicates that participation in extracurricular activities is linked to improved social and emotional well-being. It fosters a sense of belonging, social competence, and emotional regulation among students.
    • Students who participate in activities are more likely to have a connection to their school community. They are also more likely to develop leadership skills and learn to work as part of a team. For example, a study by the University of Minnesota found that students who participated in activities were more likely to report feeling happy and satisfied with their lives.
  • High School Completion and College Enrollment:
    • According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education, students who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college. This suggests a positive impact on long-term educational outcomes.
  • College Admissions: 
    • Colleges and universities value student participation in activities. They see it as a sign of well-roundedness and engagement. For example, a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that 90% of college admissions officers consider extracurricular activities when making admissions decisions.
  • Resilience and Life Skills:
    • A study in the Journal of Research on Adolescence suggests that extracurricular participation contributes to the development of resilience and life skills. Students learn problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills that are valuable beyond the academic context.
  • Reduced Risky Behaviors:
    • Research in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence has shown that involvement in extracurricular activities is associated with a lower likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as substance abuse and delinquency.

Of course, not all activities are created equal. Some activities, such as sports and academic clubs, have been shown to have more benefits for student success and well-being than others. It is also important to note that the level of engagement and the type of activity matter. Students who are more involved in activities tend to reap greater benefits. Activities that align with a student's interests and passions tend to have a more significant impact. Balancing academics with extracurriculars is also crucial to prevent burnout. It's important to note that the specific activities, the level of engagement, and individual differences can influence these correlations. Additionally, the quality of the activity and the support provided by adults and peers within these settings play crucial roles in determining outcomes.

Overall, the research suggests that student participation in activities is a valuable contributor to improving student success and well-being. Schools should encourage all students to participate in activities that interest them. It's not just about what happens in the classroom; the experiences outside of it play a crucial role in shaping a student's academic journey and personal development.

 

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