How to Choose Extracurriculars: A Comprehensive Guide
Going to college isn’t only about studying and partying. There is another way to learn new skills or boost existing ones, connect with people with the same spirit, and have fun at the same time – extracurriculars.
There are countless options one can choose from. From drama classes to charity work to various sports. But how does one pick an extracurricular that would be the best match for them personally? Here are six steps for making the right decision.
Step 1. Self-Reflection Time
This is, perhaps, the most important part of finding the right extracurriculars. It is also arguably the hardest one. After all, it requires a deep understanding of one’s wants and needs, goals, and preferences.
Here are 6 questions to jumpstart your self-reflection session:
- Do I want to try something completely new or get better at my current hobbies?
- What am I passionate about? What do I enjoy doing in my free time?
- What existing skills would I like to develop further?
- What is that one skill I’ve always wanted to learn but never got to?
- How much time will I be able and willing to dedicate to these activities? Would I need to use an academic essay writing service to balance studying, extracurriculars, and leisure?
- Why do I want to sign up for extracurricular activities? (To have fun, meet like-minded people, become a part of the community, help others?)
Step 2. List All the Opportunities
Once the self-reflection session is done, it’s time to get the lay of the land and find what opportunities are on the table.
Ideally, searching for them should take place at the beginning of the academic year as some clubs expect a year-long commitment. However, many organizations usually welcome newcomers all year long.
Here are 3 fool-proof ways to find out which clubs and organization have their doors open to students in your location:
- Visit fairs. At the beginning of the academic year, most colleges organize events to bring together organizations offering extracurriculars and their potential new participants. This is the best place to get first-hand information from the people that either organize or already take part in the activities.
- Look through the college website. Student organizations usually have a page on all extracurricular activities they offer. Some colleges and universities have hundreds of those, so there will probably be plenty of options to choose from.
- Find local organizations. In case your desired activity involves volunteering, the best bet would be to look for local churches and NGOs like the Red Cross or food banks. Checking in with recreational centers in the area is also a good idea.
Step 3. Do Your Research & Make a Shortlist
Writing down all the opportunities will probably result in a very long list. Signing up for each of them isn’t a great idea; what one should do instead is narrow it down to about five to ten options.
To make a shortlist, set up the selection criteria (much like you would do when deciding where to get custom dissertation writing help). Then, do the research on each opportunity on your list. Check for scheduling conflicts, consider the amount of time required to be set aside, the location, and whether there are any fees.
Step 4. Go to the First Meeting/Interview/Tryouts
Some clubs and associations have a selection process for potential new participants. It usually includes an interview or some sort of tryouts. Some even make the first meeting mandatory for newcomers to attend. But even if none of this applies to a particular activity, it’s still better to test the waters and try it out before deciding whether it’s a good match for you.
Step 5. Prioritize
Eager students may find themselves wanting to attend too many extracurricular activities at the same time. In such a case, however, it’s impossible to be fully dedicated to each one of them. So, a choice has to be made.
This is where a grading system may come in handy: award points per each selection criterium, sum them up and stick to the ones with the highest score.
Step 6. Enjoy Your Extracurriculars
These activities require regular attendance and active participation. This is the only way signing up for them can pay off. Without a long-term commitment, there is no opportunity for acquiring or developing long-lasting skills.
That said, remember to have fun. Extracurricular activities are not meant to be a chore or an obligation for participants. They are an opportunity to meet people, make connections, and pass the time doing something interesting and meaningful.
3 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing Extracurriculars
To ensure that the last step is a reality, there are 3 common mistakes to avoid when signing up for extracurriculars:
- Choosing too many activities. Signing up for several extracurriculars would probably leave no time for any other hobbies or socializing. The wisest decision would be to select only one or two activities at a time (this is where prioritizing comes in handy).
- Sacrificing academics. Extracurriculars are a great addition to the college experience, but studying must always come first. If meetings take up too much time and make it challenging to write an essay on time, unfortunately, it’s better to let the extracurriculars go.
- Sticking to activity without motivation or passion. If a particular activity becomes a chore instead of something enjoyable, there is no good reason to continue taking part in it. Dropping out is not something to be ashamed of.
The number of potential extracurricular activities may make your head spin, and making a choice isn’t an easy task. Hopefully, this guide will be of help in navigating the opportunities at hand and making a well-thought-out decision. The key takeaway, however, should be this: choose an extracurricular that will bring you joy.