Apr 11 2018
A Defense of After School Activities
Repeatedly, Support My Club says, “research shows the importance of after-school clubs,” but where and what exactly are the facts? While others, and ourselves, strongly believe in our mission of supporting students on their path to graduation by engaging communities to fulfill the needs of school clubs and teams, we have never validated it with peer-reviewed research. Finally, we are showing our hand and have written a short (we hope!) piece on why extracurricular activities are important and matter to high school students.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “the national high school graduation rate for 2016 [was] 84.1%, which is an all-time high.” While this rate is a major historical improvement since 2011, the United States still lags behind the rest of the world in education standards and high school graduation rates. There are multiple ways to increase the graduation rate, and Support My Club offers an alternative idea to traditional methodologies. Student Engagement.
Keeping students engaged in school increases the high school graduation rate, helps students graduate, and improves a student’s life overall. The best way to generate student engagement is to have students participate in structured, extracurricular activities. An extracurricular activity falls outside the realm of the standard educational curriculum. These activities are after-school clubs and teams such as football, robotics, theatre, and culinary club, to name a few. Belonging to an after-school club or team creates a positive environment, whereas, “students who spend large amounts of time in unstructured activities or with delinquent peers are more likely to get in trouble with the law, to abuse drugs and to drop out of school.” There are four main reasons for student engagement: it gives students a sense of belonging, it helps them connect with adults, it increases their self-esteem, and most importantly, it keeps them busy, involved and in school. These four benefits in turn, help students to stay on track for graduation and earn a high school diploma, which matters progressively more and more in today’s world.
A sense of belonging can stem from different areas of a student’s life whether it be from their school, extracurricular activity, or family. Having a sense of belonging at school, or school connectedness, means students will succeed. Blum writes that, “School connectedness refers to an academic environment in which students believe that adults in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals.” Therefore, school connectedness increases student engagement because it gives students both a sense of belonging and helps them connect with adults, which are two of the four reasons to engage students. When a student feels that they belong in school, they engage with other students and build relationships. Specifically, students in extracurricular clubs bond with fellow class/teammates because they share a similar interest and/or passion. In addition, all extracurricular clubs have a sponsor in charge of them, giving the students an adult to connect with and form a relationship with besides a parent or guardian. Students “from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to attend college when they have a mentor, particularly a teacher,” writes Price-Mitchell. Furthermore, having a relationship with an adult helps students’ build their self-esteem.
Self-esteem is essential for all students. Being involved in an extracurricular activity increases students’ confidence. When students perform tasks in their extracurricular activities correctly they, “gain better self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence,” writes Massoni. Since a student begins to gain confidence in one aspect of their life, it eventually spreads to all other aspects, which makes them a more confident student, and individual overall. Students are then able to approach problems and activities with sureness. Student self-confidence improves when a student remains involved during after-school hours.
The hours between 3-6pm, or after-school hours, are when juvenile crime peaks. This peak occurs because “11.3 million kids are alone and unsupervised,” during this time, which gives students a larger opportunity to “commit crimes or become victims of crimes, and experiment with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex.” Fortunately, extracurricular activities provide an opportunity to fill this gap of non-supervision. When students participate in a structured, supervised, afterschool activity, they have less of an opportunity to make poor decisions and can better themselves and develop a passion and talent, which improves most aspects of a students’ life overall.
In summary, extracurricular activities are vastly important for students of all ages, but especially so for high school students. Extracurricular activities give students an outlet for creativity, help them make friends, and keep them in a safe and supervised space. We all need to realize the importance of extracurricular activities in students’ lives to keep them better engaged in school to attain graduation and to even proceed on to receive a secondary education. With the help and support of community members, Support My Club can outfit every student on their path to graduation through extracurricular activities, which helps increase the graduation rate overall!
 U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) through Public high school 4–year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR), by race/ethnicity and selected demographics for the United States, the 50 states, and the District of Columbia: School year 2014–15. https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/
 Balingit, Moriah. “U.S. High School Graduation Rates Rise to New High.” The Washington Post, December 4, 2017. Accessed March 26, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.
 Hodges, Tim. “Student Hope, Engagement as Important as Graduation Rates.” Gallup. August 31, 2016. Accessed March 26, 2018. http://news.gallup.com/
 "Adolescents Benefit from Structured Extracurricular Activities." Educational Research Newsletter & Webinars. March 2004. Accessed March 12, 2018. https://www.ernweb.com/
 Blum, Robert. “A Case for School Connectedness.” The Adolescent Learner 62, no. 7 (2005). Accessed March 12, 2018. http://www.ascd.org/
 Price-Mitchell, Marilyn. “Mentoring Youth Matters: Six Qualities That Make You a Good Mentor for Teens.” Psychology Today (2013). Accessed March 21, 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.
 Massoni, Erin. “Positive Effects of Extra Curricular Activities on Students.” Essai 9, no. 27 (2011). Accessed March 19, 2018. https://dc.cod.edu/cgi/
 National Center for State Courts. “Trends in Juvenile Violent Crime.” February 2000. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.bjs.gov/content/
 Afterschool Alliance. America After 3PM: Afterschool Programs in Demand. (2014). Accessed March 19, 2018. http://afterschoolalliance.