Non Academics are Academically Valuable

Schools nation-wide are cutting extracurricular programs when faced with the decision of how to reduce spending. EducationNext published an article discussing the extra curricular dilemma.  Moot court, swim teams and art clubs – just to name a few – are being shoved off the budget sheet because they are not vital to a student’s education. Or are they?

Cutting extracurriculars can be as damaging to a student’s success as cutting a core subject.  Studies show that there is a correlation between participating in after school activities and graduating from high school, attending college, and having a successful post-college career.  June Kronholz wrote in EducationNext:

“The National Center for Education Statistics found that high-school seniors who were involved in school activities were less likely to cut class and play hooky than kids who weren’t involved. Three times as many had a GPA of 3.0 or higher.”

Other positive results of involvement in non-academic activities include:

  • time management
  • leadership
  • self-discipline
  • persistance
  • focus

These skills are vital to a successful college and post-college career.  Furthermore, a lack
of elementary, middle, and high school extracurriculars negatively impacts students’ tendency to get involved on their college campuses.

U.S. Department of Education data shows that students with the best test scores are the most active in extracurricular nonacademic activities. But does extracurricular involvement produce good students or are good students involved in extracurriculars?  Margo Gardener, a scientist at the National Center for Children and Families, investigated this correlation. EducationNext published her findings:

“Using data from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), and controlling for poverty, race, gender, test scores, and parental involvement, Gardner has calculated that the odds of attending college were 97 percent higher for youngsters who took part in school-sponsored activities for two years than for those who didn’t do any school activities.”

“The odds of completing college were 179 percent higher, and the odds of voting eight years after high school, a proxy for civic engagement, were 31 percent higher.”

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