Though the football jock, high school cheerleader and star of the school play make for great caricatures in cinema, individuals often overlook the practical benefits that involvement in extracurricular activities has on a student in real life.

Standardized test scores usually dominate the education headlines because they are often seen as a significant indicator of achievement. But what’s learned on the basketball court or at a student government meeting could be just as important.

[pullquote]“One of the most important questions to ask is if the university offers the program you want and consider the quality of those programs.”[/pullquote]

For students who attend schools throughout the state, the tools gained from participating in extracurricular activities has become harder to come by over the last few years. Since the Great Recession, Oklahoma has reduced per-student funding by more than 20 percent. A 2014 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that funding to Oklahoma’s public schools was 23.6 percent lower in 2013 than it was in 2008.

Extracurricular activities have a profound impact on one’s life and can make students much more marketable to college admission counselors. Many high school juniors and seniors are curious as to which particular activity appears more favorable in the eyes of an admissions counselor.

Extracurricular activities have proven to go beyond college admissions. According to a 2012 College Board study, involvement in afterschool activities while performing well academically demonstrates positive time management and prioritization skills, which are big indicators of success in the workforce.

Additionally, a vital purpose of extracurricular activities is to keep students energized and connected to school. High school theater productions, championship football games, inspiring poetry sessions and the practical volunteer opportunities all help keep students motivated to show up to school each day.

“At our school we try and make it so that every student has one thing to get excited about every day,” says Matthew Vereecke, school director at Monte Cassino.

Ultimately, if a student is engaged, that makes the student and the teacher’s job a little bit easier.

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