Study after study has shown the benefits of extracurriculars for teenagers. From improving GPAs and standardized test scores to reporting higher levels of mental health and well-being, there is a growing collection of evidence showing that getting students involved early pay developmental dividends. There is even data to show that participation in after-school activities can lower the number of absences from school and decrease the likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse. Here are 16 of the most beneficial extracurricular activities for teenagers!
Sports teams are some of the best-known extracurricular activities, with benefits from leadership skills to higher levels of academic achievement. When you add in all the benefits of such regular and vigorous physical exercise, sports vault towards the top of the list of most beneficial extracurriculars. Since there is such a multitude of options for youth athletics, we decided to focus on those which also bring the added benefit of being the most likely to give children the opportunity to continue their athletic careers at the college level. Are you aware which of these popular activities gives your child the best chance of getting to actually play in college?
12% of boys and a whopping 25% of girls who play in high school also participate at the collegiate level making it #1 of all sports teams for athletes looking to put a sport on their college applications! Although hockey is not offered at all high schools, there are club offerings that cover the entire country coast to coast!
Learn more: USA Hockey
Though still somewhat limited to affluent schools, almost 13% of all high school lacrosse players on competitive teams end up playing in college, making it the #2 overall sport for getting your child to compete at the next level.
Learn more: USA Lacrosse
7% of all high school students who swim are still lapping it up at college-level, making it the number 3 sport overall. Besides some of the classic advantages of athletics like building muscle, strengthening lung capacity, and improving endurance, there is evidence student participation in swimming also improves sleep, improves memory, and reduces stress and anxiety.
Learn more: Goldfish Swimschool
7% of girls and 6% of boys who compete on their high school golf teams go on to hit the links in college, enough for 4th overall. It is also famously one of the most accessible and best sports for older adults, allowing children who participate to develop a lifelong healthy hobby!
Learn more: PGA Jr. League
Extracurricular participation in these creative kinds of activities aid a school student not only with personal development but also stands out to college admissions officers. As more and more mundane tasks are automated, building creative problem solving and design skills like those nurtured in these activities make them ideal for creating a young person ready for a career in the economy of the future!
Playing an instrument brings benefits including increased brain growth in school-age children, increased coordination, and even improvements in language and math!
Learn more: Learning Potential
Though increased fine motor skills and creativity may be the obvious benefit, did you know students who engage regularly in art also show tangible improvements in problem-solving and processing skills as well?
Learn more: Artful Parent
Drama Club engagement has been shown to help teens develop greater levels of empathy, self-esteem, and academic skills in addition to being a great addition to any college application portfolio.
Learn more: San Diego family
Both Marching Band and Jazz Band as extracurricular activities include the advantages of playing an instrument but also can add in an increase in discipline and time management skills, and can give a school student a strong social circle if they are part of their school's extracurricular activity offerings.
Learn more: Don Gayhardt
School programs that involve dance help young people with their coordination, cognitive development, building self-esteem, and relieving stress. All these are reasons dance can be a worthy time investment for increasing chances of school success!
Learn more: Castle Rock Dance Academy
Traditionally known for being a boon in the college admissions process, these school clubs and organizations also provide benefits from leadership skills to time management, negotiation, and self-discipline.
10. Student Government
Student Council, Student Body President, or similar positions can be an excellent way for students to gain experience in leadership roles and let teens impact their school's academic curriculum, and are definitely something notable for a College Admissions Committee.
Learn more: Yuda Bands
11. School Newspapers
There are few better places for students to improve their researching, reading, and writing skills than working for their school's newspaper. Add in job market-ready skills like interviewing and time management and it is no wonder participating in a school newspaper is considered such an advantage in the college admissions process.
Learn more: The Covington News
12. Honor Societies
There are a host of academic and professional organizations such as National Honors Society, National Society of High School Scholars, and even subject-specific ones for Math, Science, English, Social Studies, and others. These academic organizations often require community service hours but are renowned for paying dividends in terms of scholarships and college admissions success.
Learn more: University of the People
13. Special Interest Clubs
School Clubs like math clubs, chess clubs, or even video gaming clubs are extracurricular activities that can not only encourage your teenager to pursue their passions and find like-minded companions but also can help them stand out on the college admissions landscape.
Learn more: Torrance Unified School District.org
Participating in the WorkForce
There's nothing like the "real thing" for getting sheltered youth a taste of being a grown-up like punching a time clock and learning to use those precious first funds earned.
14. Part-Time Jobs
Although it is important to emphasize the "part-time" so as not to let working interfere with their success in school, spending a bit of time working can help teach teens valuable lessons from managing their finances to finding (or crossing off) a career path.
Learn more: Middle Me Earth
Among the most rewarding extracurricular activities, getting volunteer experience and working on community service projects have been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy, and even success in school as well as standing helping your child stand out from a college admissions standpoint.
Learn more: United Way Helps
These can be huge for young people looking to network with professionals, gain hands-on skills, define their career goals, and overall set themselves up for success in the college environment and beyond!
Learn more: Southern Utah University