How to Balance Extracurricular Activities with School

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Extracurricular activities are a wonderful way for students to stay involved with their interests, and they also look great on any college application. However, it’s important not to let these activities interfere with regular academics. Here’s how to balance extracurricular activities with school!

1. Make a calendar of dates. Compile a list of all important dates and obligations as early as you can during the school year. Include both academic responsibilities as well as extracurricular activities that require a serious chunk out of your schedule (games, performances, practices, etc.) Although you might not know the deadlines of weekly assignments, your teachers should be able to provide you with a schedule of important dates in advance. The dates for midterms, final exams, and large projects are often provided in a course’s syllabus at the beginning of the school year. The goal is to create a comprehensive list of every major obligation throughout the school year so you can begin to develop a system for tackling any scheduling issues.

2. Identify potential conflicts. Look through your calendar or list to find dates where academic responsibilities and extracurricular activities may conflict. It’s important not to just focus on single days, either. For example, if you’ve got a final exam on the same day as a sports game, you need to also account for time that will be devoted to preparation (studying, or team practice). You may find weeks where your schedule gets hectic, so it’s better to know about these date ranges in advance so you can prepare.

3. Create a schedule that works for you. Once you’ve found areas in your schedule that may cause you trouble, start brainstorming solutions for these conflicts. Consider what obligations are flexible, and which are set in stone. Let’s use the same example as above with a student juggling both a final exam and a big game on the same day. If there’s nightly team practices the week before the event that you’re expected to attend, that’s not really something you can move around. You can, however, decide to devote the week before to studying for the final exam, knowing that the actual week leading up to the exam is going to be extra-busy. By doing the bulk of your studying a week in advance, you’ll only have to do a mild review the week of the game and can instead focus the rest of your energy on team spirit!

4. Remind yourself of the benefits of extracurricular activities. We know that extracurricular activities can be a blast, and it’s easy for students to start putting their academics second without realizing it. Try to remind yourself that extracurricular activities, while fun and engaging, also serve another purpose – as a valuable addition to any college application. As we’ve often discussed on our blogs, colleges and universities pay special attention to non-academic areas on a student’s application, including volunteer work, community service, and extracurricular activities. However, the edge you might receive from including extracurricular activities won’t be as impressive if your academics don’t back it up. As a result, it’s important to remind yourself that academic responsibilities should ultimately be your main focus.

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