Extracurriculars make for an extraordinary college experience

Photo of college students playing spikeball at LCCCCollege life is an exciting and transformative phase for those who rigorously pursue it. It is a time when individuals expand their knowledge through academic pursuits, discover themselves and develop crucial life skills. While coursework forms the foundation of education, it is the extracurricular activities that provide a well-rounded experience, allowing students to enhance personal growth, build relationships and prepare students for the challenges of the real world.

Jay Mathews, a Washington Post education columnist for nearly 50 years, wrote that experiences outside the classroom can have an even more significant impact on your life than lectures and textbooks. The environments on college campuses filled with aspiring people with unique ideas can lead to important innovations, with Mathews pointing to the Hewlett-Packard company growing from imaginative chats between two undergraduates after an electrical engineering class.

“Campus relationships have launched innovations and created jobs everywhere — in music, film, television, medicine, rocketry, energy, publishing, economics, real estate and many parts of the internet,” Mathews wrote in a July 2022 column.

Engaging in extracurricular activities allows students to explore their passions and develop skills beyond the academic realm. Whether it's joining a student organization around an interesting area, such as science, business or spirituality, participating in community service, or becoming part of a sports team, these activities foster personal growth. They help students discover their strengths and weaknesses, build self-confidence, and develop leadership abilities. By taking on responsibilities and facing challenges outside of the classroom, students learn valuable life lessons such as time management, teamwork and adaptability.

“Students can learn time management skills, project management skills and generally how to develop an idea with a group of people so you can execute a plan,” said Zeke Sorenson, coordinator of Student Engagement & Diversity at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. “When you’re working with a team, students can show that they can take on tasks or delegate them in collaborating with other people.”

It’s important to remember that employers seek candidates who possess not only academic excellence but also a range of transferable skills. Extracurricular activities on a resume showcase a candidate's ability to manage time, work in teams and take on leadership roles. They demonstrate a proactive attitude, passion and the ability to balance multiple responsibilities. Employers recognize that individuals who actively participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to be equipped to handle the challenges of the workplace.

“Employers are looking at more than just grades — they’re looking at what you did with your time in your college years,” Sorenson said. “Can they show that they were able to juggle multiple things? Can they show they took on a leadership role? It’s something that can go a long way with employers.”

Extracurricular activities provide an ideal platform for students to expand their social and professional networks. Joining clubs and organizations allows individuals to connect with like-minded peers who share similar interests. These interactions can lead to lifelong friendships, valuable mentorship and collaboration on future projects. Furthermore, extracurricular activities often involve networking with professionals and alumni, creating opportunities for internships, job placements and career development.

Additionally, by participating in extracurricular endeavors, students spend time working with people with diverse perspectives, cultures and experiences. This exposure enhances their understanding of the world, promotes tolerance and empathy, and nurtures a well-rounded worldview. The connections made through these activities can open doors and provide students with a competitive edge in the job market.

The benefits of extracurriculars are so wide-ranging that many students don’t even realize everything they’re getting from the experiences while they’re in college, Sorenson said.

“There are a lot of ways that students benefit that they aren’t going to see during their time here,” he said. “You just have to wait and see how it plays out, and getting involved in extracurriculars is a great way to start getting into the mode of long-term thinking.”

At Laramie County Community College, students can find the full student experience, complete with extracurricular activities, Sorenson said. With dozens of student clubs and organizations, events throughout the academic year, athletics and more, LCCC students have a wealth of opportunities for campus involvement.

“The quality of the full college experience is essentially what the student makes of it during their time here,” Sorenson said. “I think it can be overwhelming at first because there is a lot of information overload. But if students take the time to sift through the information and pull out some of the things that apply to them more directly, they can find resources to help them succeed during their time here.”

For more information about student clubs and organizations at LCCC, go to lccc.wy.edu/life/clubs.