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Extracurricular activities are activities performed by students that fall outside the realm of the normal curriculum of school or university education. Extracurricular activities exist at all levels of education, from 4th-6th, junior high/middle school, high school, college and university education. On average, in the United States, many students participate in a minimum of one extracurricular activity throughout the course of one school year.
Such activities are generally voluntary as opposed to mandatory, non-paying, tend to be Athletics, social, and philanthropic as opposed to scholastic, and involve others of the same age. Students often organize and direct these activities under faculty sponsorship; although student-led initiatives - such as independent newspapers - are common.
The extracurriculum made its first appearance in American colleges in the nineteenth century. It complemented the curriculum as much as subverted it. The students found in it a kind of laboratory for practical and vocational interests. The first extracurricular activities were student literary societies (which had roots in the previous century at Harvard and Yale), debate clubs, and by mid-century, Greek letter fraternities and sororities. Students also initiated and organized the early athletic programs on American college campuses. Literary societies were on the decline by the turn of the twentieth century, and some educators felt that less desirable extracurricular activities were now distracting students from their curricular responsibilities. Intercollegiate athletics soon became the dominant element in the extracurriculum in most American colleges and high schools.
Such activities as school newspaper and interschool sports programs have been part of American high schools since the World War I era. Today’s public high schools offer a comprehensive array of extracurricular activities to complement the curriculum.
Extracurricular activities should not be confused with co-curricular activities such as band and choir. Co-curricular activities do have some aspects that are outside the normal school day but are mainly curricular activities that happen during normal class time.
Companies seeking job applicants may not look solely for those with a high GPA; employers might also look at extracurricular activities to determine if the applicant is the best suited for the job.
- Athletic participation
- Athletic training
- Student government
- Topic-specific clubs such as math club, Philanthropy Key Club
- Competitions such as the National History Day program & scholastic bowl
- Political science organizations that moot court, or the publication of a law review
- Internships and other school sponsored work programs
- University societies
- Using extracurricular activity as an indicator of interpersonal skill: prudent evaluation or recruiting malpractice, Human Resource Management, Rubin, R.S., Bommer, W.H. & Baldwin, T.T. (2002).
- Extra Curricular Network Australia (ECNA) promotes Extra curricular programs for tertiary students in Victoria, Australia.
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