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Avoid extracurricular burnout

Published On: Jul 23 2011 09:29:57 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 15 2012 02:36:50 PM CDT

Participating in extracurricular activities is a great way for a high-school student to get involved, as well as a great way to challenge yourself. It also looks good on college and job applications, showing admissions officers and potential employers you're responsible as well as well-rounded.

Extracurricular activities can be team sports such as basketball, baseball, track, gymnastics or tennis. They can also include language club, debating team, student government, yearbook, choir, jazz band and computer club, just to name a few. They can range from school-offered activities to community and church groups.

Although there are plenty of extracurricular options available, how many is too many for a high school student?

Grades Are Important

According to, extracurricular activities can give you an edge if you're trying to get into college, as college admissions are getting more competitive every year. But the most important criteria to college admission boards are a student's transcript and test scores. Extracurricular activities demonstrate a student's other important qualities such as responsibility, ability to work with others and personal commitment.

Moderation Key

Extracurricular activities may be valuable to a student's getting in to college, but just remember that more isn't necessarily better. These activities should be done in moderation. Participating in too many can cut into a student's study time and potentially hurt his or her chances of being accepted at more competitive colleges.

Make The Most Of It

Colleges look for students who bring unique skills and diverse interests to their student body. Yet admission officials are more likely to consider a student who's shown commitment to one or two extracurricular activities instead of a candidate who's involved in too many activities. The student should emphasize quality, not quantity.

Your child can make the most of extracurricular activities by:

  • Making academics a priority
  • Committing to just one or two activities that really interest him or her
  • Pursuing a service-based activity –- you can show commitment to your community and explore potential careers at the same time

How Much Is Too Much?

There is a smorgasbord of activities, and they all look appetizing. But if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you may fill up your plate too fast with too much. Before you join any activity, review your class schedule, work schedule, and other activities, and then determine if what you want to do is realistic. You need to ask yourself if you have enough time to study. And don't forget to include eating, sleeping and relaxing. It's not worth it to be involved in an activity that adds more stress to your life.

It's OK To Say No

If you've joined an activity (or two or three) and you're feeling stressed out, overwhelmed or tired, it's time to reconsider. It's vital to find and keep a balance among schoolwork, extracurricular activities, a job, social life and your health. A lack of sleep diminishes skills needed for academic success such as attention, organization, creative thinking, efficiency, even motivation.

If you've decided to quit a particular activity, talk with the adviser or coach and explain your situation and feelings. It might not be the right match or simply too time-consuming. Sometimes saying "no" is the most responsible thing you can do.

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