You walk into a brand new classroom. It’s your first day of school and like always, you’re a little nervous but mostly excited. As you look around you realize nobody you know is in your class. A wave of loneliness comes over you. Am I going to fit in? Will I make new friends? Am I going to have any fun this year? All these and a million more questions run through your mind at a lightning fast pace. Eventually you make your way to your seat and class begins. Hours turn into days, days turn into weeks, and as time goes on you learn your classmates’ names, hobbies and make friends with some of them. You may think this is just a social exercise or construct of society, but these interactions have an effect on your mood and academic performance. Recent research from the Economics of Education Review found that “independent of individual ability, I find (they found) that athletic participation is associated with a 2 percent increase in math and science test scores. Club participation is associated with a 1 percent increase in math test scores. Finally, involvement in either type of activity is associated with a 5 percent increase in Bachelor’s degree attainment expectations.” Being involved in school activities can make a difference, not only in social interactions, but in academic performance.
Now that we know school involvement is very important in relation to student success, I would like to share some of my own experiences regarding this. When I first started middle school, I didn’t want anything to do with extra-curricular activities. I did my school work and participated in my club sport (gymnastics). No more, no less. I went through middle school feeling a little disconnected and didn’t feel like I related to my classmates on any significant level. When I entered high school, I had a simple goal that revolved around school involvement. I wanted to be a part of my class and get to know other people through sports and other activities like student government. I started playing three varsity sports and joined my school’s student council. I learned a lot of people’s names and became friends with many of them. I started to enjoy school and my entire attitude about education changed. That shift caused my grades to move from low A to A+. As I moved to college I continued to increase my school involvement. I became a senator for my college in our student government. I joined various clubs across campus, ranging from the rock climbing club to the winter sports club and became a High Sierra Area Health Education Center Student Ambassador (AHEC for short). All of the activities I participate in help me become an active student on campus and enjoy my experience as a college student (They also look great on a resume!). This enjoyment makes my school work easier and helps put a smile on my face every day.
I currently have no problems joining new groups, but it hasn’t always been this way for me. At first it was hard and a bit scary to meet new people. Below are some strategies that helped me break into new groups:
Now go forward and get out of your comfort zone – join a new club or sports team. Find new friends in a new place and give yourself the best chances for success!
This blog was written by Corban Cocanour, a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador.