Finding a Balance with Extracurricular Activities

“I’m so busy!” That seems to be the rallying cry of high school kids everywhere. And while most of them have the stress and impeccable resume to show for it, there are also those who aren’t busy enough. Here’s how to tell if your teen took on too many or too few extracurricular activities this year and what you can do about it.

extracurricular activities

Photo Credit: Carlos Gracia

Is your teen too busy? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • No time to adequately study.
  • Grades are falling.
  • Not getting enough adequate sleep.
  • Never have time to just hang out and chill.
  • Constantly moving from activity to activity – but never actually diving into anything.
  • They don’t enjoy activities they once loved.
  • No-shows at family meals.
  • Overall they just seem, well, stressed.

How can you help? Walk through their schedule, together:

  • Assist them in taking a hard look at their schedule to see how much time the need to devote the necessities like homework, sleeping, exercise and family.
  • Help them prioritize activities that are most meaningful to them. We hear some colleges may give added weight to drama and debate, but encourage your child to do what they love.
  • Discuss if there is one activity they want to focus on. More and more, colleges are looking for quality over quantity. Asking for a description of the student’s participation, along with how many hours were spent on it. Admissions committees are looking for dedication and sustained interest, which means finding a passion and making a difference in extracurricular activities.
  • If the activities must stay, a little help from a tutor can get them through the rough patches.

Is your teen not busy enough? Some surprising signs to consider:

  • Taking a ton of time to do their homework because the procrastination bug has taken root.
  • Hours spent on video games or other activities that don’t contribute to their knowledge base.
  • Complaints of boredom at school.
  • They don’t have much to put on a college application.
  • Don’t seem to have any like-minded friends.

How can you help? Suggest some out of the box extracurricular activities:

  • Find a part-time job.
  • Play a recreational sport, or joining a gym.
  • Take up a hobby, whether it’s photography, cooking or an instrument. Diving into a hobby can be just as rewarding as an extracurricular club at school.
  • Sign up for more challenging courses, such as AP classes.
  • Volunteer at a local food bank, animal shelter, boys and girls club or the library.
  • Get involved with a political campaign or cause.
  • Start a club at school! Nothing shows initiative more than seeing a void and filling it.

Extracurricular activities are vital to a vibrant, full and happy life, whether your teen finds something to do through school or on their own. Learning to determine a healthy balance is a skill that will serve them well throughout life.


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