Getting into college is becoming harder and harder. With prestigious colleges often averaging less than a 10 percent acceptance rate, students may feel the need to take as many AP classes as they can and get the best grades possible, in order to maximize their chances of acceptance. However, these ridiculous academic standards are preventing students from obtaining all that high school has to offer. Berkeley High School students should instead utilize their high school years to find extracurricular activities that interest them and benefit their personal growth.
The truth is that high school is a lot more than just academic school work. While taking challenging classes is good, focusing on subjects that actually interest you is critical. Furthermore, high school is about forming the skills needed for the rest of life, and you can’t just get that from doing academic work. This is why extracurricular activities like sports, clubs, or even volunteer opportunities are extremely crucial during these years of young adulthood.
Robbie Parker, a junior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), talked about the social benefits extracurriculars bring. “There’s no social aspect to doing solo academic work. And I think that’s probably one of the more important parts of high school, getting to know people. Those relationships will last a lot longer, as the people skills you gain last a lot longer than what you learn from school,” said Parker.
Parker is a member of BHS crew, he works as a lifeguard, and recently joined the Law Club at BHS. He believes that the extracurricular activities he participates in have a huge impact on his success in school and how motivated he is overall.
Extracurricular activities help students figure out what they are interested in, which can increase their likelihood of being motivated in school. When students find an activity or subject that interests them, it can help them feel a sense of purpose or excitement for the future. Eamonn Kaufer, a junior in BIHS, agrees that participating in extracurriculars “makes (him) feel more productive. I feel like I’m doing stuff. It’s like I’m bettering myself outside of school and just learning new things.” Kaufer does Youth and Government, plays varsity water polo, and also works as a lifeguard.
These two examples don’t define all that extracurricular activities have to offer. While clubs and sports are great, volunteer opportunities are very useful as well. Volunteers find that they feel fulfilled themselves while also helping better the community. Over the summer, I went to Panama for four weeks and lived with a host family. My time spent this summer taught me a lot: Learning Spanish, cooking traditional foods, doing activities with kids, but most importantly it taught me so much about myself. I feel that this experience really made me aware of all that is out there. In Panama, I practiced communication through untraditional forms, people skills, and learned how to be okay with feeling uncomfortable.
Extracurricular activities should not be undervalued. While students should still put focus into academics, it is equally important for them to dive into their own interests. Students should think about who they want to be. Do you want to be someone who has perfect grades and scores, or do you want to be someone who in activities they love and betters their community while doing so?