Co-curricular activities in higher education aid in boosting student success. As students engage with clubs and programs, they can strengthen their academic knowledge and gain valuable skills they may otherwise not have. Colleges and universities can build these programs to aid in student comprehension and create a more fulfilling experience on campus. Discover the importance of co-curricular programs in student success from Watermark.
What Are Co-Curricular Activities?
Co-curricular activities in school take place outside the classroom and supplement course materials. Students perform these activities without grades or academic credit but still learn new information or reinforce current knowledge. These activities occur outside class hours and typically happen through the same institution where the student receives instruction. Examples of co-curricular activities could be newspaper clubs, student councils, musical performances, debate competitions, engineering teams, art shows, and robotics groups.
Co-Curricular vs. Extracurricular Activities: What's the Difference?
You may hear the terms “co-curricular” and “extracurricular” used interchangeably. Both occur outside the classroom and provide students with additional experience in some form or another. However, these terms have a fundamental distinction, though one institution may classify an activity as co-curricular while another may consider it extracurricular.
In general, the difference between these is that extracurricular activities do not necessarily reinforce academic learning. While co-curricular activities relate to educational resources, strengthen comprehension, or connect students with learning in some way, extracurricular activities do not. Examples of extracurricular activities could include participating on a sports team not associated with the school, church-related activities, or Scouting. These activities are unrelated to the school, and the instructors or group leaders are not teachers, faculty members, or other school staff.
The Value of Student Success
Student success encompasses many facets of the academic experience. Some aspects include academics, persistence, goal achievement, core competencies, satisfaction, soft and hard skill possession, and career or life readiness after graduation.
Your institution may define student success differently from other higher education institutions. For example, some colleges may define student success by graduation rate or program completion, while a university evaluates student advancement and academic achievement. Regardless of your institution's definition, student success plays a vital role in higher education.
Student success involves ensuring each student has the resources they need to excel. Offering assistance in writing centers, internship offices, mentor programs, course scheduling help, holistic success pathways, and co-curricular activities can boost student success. When your students have help and support, they're more likely to continue their studies, feel satisfied on campus, and see graduation at the end of their program.
On top of upholding your promise to deliver quality education to current students, student success helps incoming students prepare for the next phase in their academic journey. As high school juniors and seniors debate which institution they want to attend, they can refer to your student success rates. If they recognize that your institution goes above and beyond to guide students to their goals, they may be more likely to enroll. Comparatively, low student success may steer students to other institutions they feel fit their needs better.
Why Are Co-Curricular Activities Important for Student Success?
The student experience outside the classroom is essential for students. Co-curricular programs and groups can be an excellent way for students to make friends, meet people, interact with new ideas, and connect with their interests. The impact of co-curricular activities leads to improved academic performance, multicultural awareness, cognitive development, psychological well-being, and leadership development. Other benefits of co-curricular activities include the following.
- Improving social skills: Co-curricular involvement encourages students to collaborate with peers and gain experience working as a team. Additionally, clubs and organizations are an excellent way to meet people with similar interests and goals.
- Relieving stress: Coursework can be challenging, and students who experience anxiety can alleviate some of these unwanted feelings by participating in co-curricular activities. Students can enjoy their favorite pastimes while building skills and making friends.
- Strengthening applications: These activities give students many experiences to list on job and graduate school applications. Co-curricular activities can help set students apart and highlight their remarkable qualities.
- Improving academic performance: Participating in clubs and programs can teach time-management skills and improve focus. Students can benefit from the additional skills and see a boost in their coursework performance.
Impacting Career Readiness
Co-curricular involvement fills resumes and applications with experience. As students apply for jobs and graduate school, they can use their time in co-curricular activities to exemplify their knowledge and skills. They can show evidence of team building, leadership, organization, and other skills that exhibit their ability to succeed in many roles. Studies show employers prefer to hire students who were at least minimally involved in co-curricular activities over those without these experiences.
Co-curricular activities paint a picture of the student beyond the classroom. Here, students can discuss their interests and what matters most to them, giving employers a deeper understanding of what drives them. Employers are looking for candidates who can be ambitious and possess well-rounded skill sets. When students show their ability to work with others, leadership roles, and advanced knowledge or skills, they become more marketable to future employers.
Changing the Student Experience
Students can develop different skills outside and inside the classroom. Students who only attend classes lose the valuable opportunity to gain an experiential education. Those who participate in co-curricular activities can develop a more balanced experience and increase their overall satisfaction.
When students pursue co-curricular activities, they can:
- Build confidence
- Increase collaboration
- Gain new skills
- Improve problem-solving abilities
- Develop resilience
- Form relationships
Boosting Student Persistence
Student involvement correlates to student success and satisfaction. When students are satisfied with their campus experience, they're more likely to re-enroll for the following semesters, effectively increasing persistence and, upon program completion, student retention at your institution. Along with creating a balanced experience, students can get higher grades and GPAs.
Additionally, co-curricular activities help build other skill sets that boost academic performance. For instance, students can learn time-management and focus skills they can apply to their coursework. As they create schedules for themselves and ensure they fit all tasks into their day, they can hone skills they will carry through their time on campus and into their careers.
Implement Co-Curricular Activities With Watermark
Watermark turns insights into actions. We've been building innovative software solutions for more than 20 years, so higher education institutions can drive change and boost student success. We made our solutions for higher education, and you can use them to connect with your students and meet them where they are.
We use data to drive our missions and want to help you do the same. With our software solutions, you won't only be checking a box — you'll be making a difference. Other institutions that have worked with Watermark saw increased engagement and boosted retention within the first year, and you can, too.
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