Extra-Particular: The Importance of Extra-Curricular Activities to the College Experience

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Ian Leonard

As many of you more than likely don’t know, I am the editor of this humble little section we call Opinions. It’s only been a year since I joined Student Media on what can only be classified as a whim. After making multiple errors navigating the upper level of the Russell Union during SOAR, I ended up in the wrong breakout session. Despite realizing my mistake nearly immediately, I couldn’t muster the courage to interrupt the presentation and excuse myself. Instead I ended up staying for the entirety of the session, and in the spur of the moment decided I would try out this whole “journalism” business. Well as you can see I stuck around and I can confidently say that I haven’t once regretted the mistake I made that day. 

Now, I’m not here to convince you that you should join Student Media. I mean, you should, but that’s not what this is about. This organization, and the people who comprise its ranks, happened to be a perfect fit for me and my ambitions. I can recognize however that this organization definitely isn’t for everyone. But, I am a staunch believer that every student should be involved in some form of extracurricular activity. And the sooner you’re indoctrinated, the better. In my, uh, opinion.

When I first arrived here at Southern, I remember spending the better half of a day simply sitting in my room, playing games, watching Netflix, enduring mild anxiety attacks. You know, normal freshman stuff. I simply didn’t know what else to do. I was used to my time being dictated for me, and now that I had free reign to do whatever I wanted, I came to realize I didn’t know what that was. Had I not been apart of something bigger than myself, I likely would have stayed that way for who knows how long. This is where the value of extracurriculars show. At the absolute least, these activities force students to venture out of their comfort zone and experience things they may have otherwise been ignorant too. I made friends fast and often working for Student Media. I learned about new aspects of this university that I probably would have never known and even learned of other organizations that I have since joined.

While it’s important to take everything in moderation, I’ve found that the benefits of extracurriculars far outweigh any potential drawbacks. And since apparently 12 hours is the new 15, I know most of you probably have more free time than you think and could simply direct that new found liberty to something of greater importance. It’s simply about finding the right group for you. If you enjoy what you do and who you’re doing it with, it will feel infinitely better than anything you could accomplish on your own.

Devoting your time to something outside of the classroom could even end up changing your life. I know that sounds tacky, but it’s true. And it doesn’t even have to be a club. You could join a greek organization, academic fellowships, intramural sports, even something as simple as finding some exercise partners at the R.A.C. can be an extra curricular. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do it with passion. And that is something I believe, we have in abundance here.