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Why Extracurricular Activities are Important to Your Education Abroad

Thursday | January 5, 2017 | by Kaitlin Ramby

Students participating in extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are the activities you participate in outside of the regular classroom (hence the word ‘extra’) environment. Extracurricular activities can include student clubs, sports teams, volunteering, student government, or even a part-time job or internship.

However, in the process of moving to a new country, grasping a second language, and adjusting to a new education system, international students can easily overlook the importance of these activities.

Here are a few reasons why extracurricular activities are beneficial to your education abroad:

Cultural Integration

Many international students can experience “culture shock” when they first arrive in their new country of study. Getting involved in extracurricular activities can help students overcome this sensation and allow them to intimately understand the culture of their new country in a way that the typical classroom environment may not provide. For example, joining a student group can help an international student meet a new group of people and potentially build lasting friendships with people who can teach them about cultural customs and norms that they might not learn by only attending classes.

Social Skills

It can often be a challenge for international students to build relationships when moving to a new place. Getting involved in activities outside of school can help these students meet new people with whom they share interests and improve their social skills as a result. Extracurricular activities also help students to expand their network, which is beneficial for finding career opportunities after graduation. For example, an international student who joins an environmental group at school will meet other students with similar environmental passions. Many of the students in that group may go on to work for environmental organizations, in which case the international student could use one of the student group colleagues as a reference when they go for a job in that field.

Building Your Résumé

Participating in extracurricular activities is a superb résumé builder, and there are multiple reasons why:

  • It tells the employer a story of who you are and what causes you care about.
  • In conjunction with good grades, it can prove you have effective time-management skills.
  • It shows that you are successful both inside and outside of the classroom.
  • It can set you apart from a stack of résumés that primarily list academic achievements.

Extracurricular activities can add more personality to a résumé and improve the quality of the student’s overall job application. For example, if a student was heavily involved in their college debate team and held a leadership position, an employer might be more inclined to request an interview with the debate team student who showed initiative rather than other students who had no extracurricular activities to show on their résumé.

Earning Career Experience

Lastly, extracurricular activities can equip you with the skills you need to succeed after school, such as leadership skills, the ability to work in a team, prioritizing tasks, and managing your time. It is common for employers to expect students to already have work experience when they graduate, so having a part-time job, an internship or work-study experience to show will increase your chances of getting an entry-level position out of school. For example, a student who is applying for an entry-level job in bioengineering will be more likely to receive a job offer if they participated in an Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for bioengineering that effectively prepared them for the duties of the position.

Has participating in extracurricular activities helped to improve your international education? We want to hear about your experiences! Apply for our Student Ambassador Program today.

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Kaitlin Ramby

Kaitlin Ramby is the Digital Content Producer for World Education Services.