How To Balance Grades With Extracurricular Activities

Having extracurricular activities, like choir, is important, but so is focusing on your grades.

Flickr user Dave Parker

Grades and extracurricular activities are both very important for development. While every high school student understands the importance of balancing both aspects, many find themselves struggling to cope. The truth is, without a proper game plan, balancing grades and extracurricular activities can be incredibly stressful. You will find yourself focusing more on one while completing ignoring the other.

Tip #1 – Create a schedule that works for you

Creating a schedule is the key to being able to manage your time and get everything done without getting stressed. However, it is important that you create your very own schedule and do not try to keep up with your peers and classmates. Every one of us has our own unique work and study habits that work for us. Creating a schedule around your style will help you maximize productivity.

These tips will help you create a personalized schedule that works for you:

  • Your class schedule takes priority. Work that in first and schedule everything else around that.
  • Prioritize your activities so you get the most important things done first. During the lead up to your exams, make sure you reserve large chunks of time for studying.
  • Leave sufficient time for completing all assignments before scheduling non-academic activities.
  • Meet with your mentor, your sports coach, or your club facilitator to determine the best way to split your time.
  • Plan for unexpected events and emergencies.
  • Don’t forget to schedule in some down time to read, listen to music, or catch up with family and friends. (Relaxing is important too!)

Tip #2 – Academics should always get first preference

Both are important but academics trumps extracurricular activities—while admissions officers will give credit to both, they’re definitely going to hold your GPA in higher regard than your book club participation, for example. If there is a conflict in your schedule and you have to choose, be partial towards academics. Never compromise on a deadline for completing a project or on studying for an exam just to accommodate a club meeting or a sports event. Academics always come first.

Tip #3 – Be extremely selective about your extracurricular activities

When it comes to extracurricular activities, you will find that the most difficult part is overcoming the paradox of choice and singling out just one or two activities. Here, quality is better than quantity. Don’t join a bunch of clubs or sports just to impress admissions, because you’ll burn yourself out and imply that you’re not very dedicated in the process. Instead, find a few activities you’re really passionate about and stick with them for several years—this is how you impression admissions.

Don’t get tempted to join every team sport or club that your school offers. Experts suggest choosing no more than 3 or 4 activities. Make sure they require different levels of commitment from you so you do not end up getting too involved. Taking on too many obligations can leave you struggling to do justice to the different groups that you are a part of.

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