Mississippi Money: Invest in Extracurricular Activities That Pay Off
By Ryder Taff
Extracurricular activities are useful for keeping your child occupied until you get off work, but they can also be an investment in your child’s future. Sitting on the bench isn’t enough, so consider how to achieve the best payoff from your child’s participation in these activities.
Your child may have dreams of making it in the NFL, MLB or WNBA. Sports are an easy way to get your child fit, socializing and occupied until you get home from work. Participation in a sport is a good habit to encourage and leadership will be nice to have on the application for college. Keep the payoff in mind though. According to the NCAA, roughly eight million other children are playing high school sports. Among those, less than half a million will play college level sports, and only about a thousand will go pro each year. If your child isn’t aiming for professional level, the important thing is that he or she participates consistently to gain the discipline and the skills that the sport offers.
National service clubs like Interact or Beta Club offer service opportunities while holding your child to high academic standards. Interact is connected with Rotary which puts your child in touch with local business leaders. Service clubs are what your child makes of them. If a young person just wants to go to a meeting from time to time and puts it on the resume, it won’t stand out. Taking on leadership within the club and bringing one’s unique energy to the task will stand out. Not only will the teenager have a story to tell for college applications and job interviews, but he or she will have strong local networking foundations built in after graduation.
Art clubs and music lessons have always been key to developing a well-rounded student. Learning an instrument or developing other artistic talent is not just an outlet for expanding your child’s creativity. Participation in artistic endeavors exposes your child to other cultures, teaches discipline and can complement and enhance their academic learning. A dedicated student of the arts can have a talent that lasts a lifetime, both in appreciating the art of others and creating art of his or her own.
Business Clubs like Future Business Leaders of America and DECA offer networking, educational and competitive opportunities for students with real world implications. Like service clubs, participation alone is not particularly valuable to your child. Demonstrating excellence and leadership will build skills, recognition and networks that serve your child in college and beyond.
Academic clubs like quiz bowl or chess club are great for showcasing academic ability beyond the classroom. Excellence here can certainly bring recognition, but offers less opportunity for leadership or further development.