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Outside the classroom: the importance of extracurricular activities

03 May, 2019
Outside the classroom: the importance of extracurricular activities

At Kings, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, or 'enrichment' activities as they are also often known, alongside their main academic studies.

These activities range from participating in student councils and committees and nationally-accredited award schemes (such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award), to joining clubs and societies. Each college offers a host of different options, including sports clubs such as Basketball Club and Running Club, creative clubs such as Photography Club and Textiles Club, and clubs with a more academic focus such as Science in the News Club and Maths Club.

The Enrichment Programme at Kings also enables students to take part in both local and international volunteering and fundraising schemes, and to complete work experience placements if they wish.

There are many benefits that come from involvement in these activities and schemes, some of which are highighted below.

Developing new skills

Whilst many enrichment options give students the chance to further skills within a specific subject or hobby, such as Maths Club or Spanish Club, for example, extracurricular activities are also great for developing softer, more transferable skills. These can include skills such as public speaking, working in a team and even — just by taking part in them alongside academic classes — time management skills.

As Ya Gan, who studied A-levels before progressing to LSE, commented:

"From my own experience, activities in the Drama Club really helped improve my language skills and confidence, and I also worked in an Oxfam bookshop as a volunteer once every week, where I met incredible people from local communities."

Nguyen Hung Viet Tung (Tom), who is currently studying A-levels with us, also had this to say:

"I'm doing Clubs and Societies. I'm doing Book Club, Debating and Kings Enterprise. I love Kings Enterprise, it is always interesting, and one of my favourite things to do. I love getting into a group and starting work on marketing or advertising a new idea, learning how to make a business successful. And for Debating, I love debating, it's really fun! Doing social science and debating helps a lot with my skills for counter-arguments, it's fantastic! And Book Club, well it's books, so improving reading and general skills."

Developing new interests

One of the great things about the Kings enrichment programme is that it can allow students to explore completely new interests that they wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to. They can also provide a great chance for students to broaden their horizons and their understanding of the world, particularly within the context of an international school where they can meet students from an even wider range of countries than those represented in their academic classes.

Daven Chen, who is completing a Foundation course with us, had the following thoughts on develping new interests through enrichment:

"I think at first I wanted to join (Book Club) it because I'm not a book person, not a book reader, but I needed to improve my reading skills because, no matter what, you need to read some things, maybe articles or documents. I will enjoy Book Club to increase my interest in reading. Now I started it, it's fun and it's easy to catch up or follow. I think it make me want to read more. And also we can talk a lot so we need to share ideas, so it's also practising my other skills. And to come back to my point, we can learn more about how others think and feel."

Helping students stand out within university and job applications

Extracurricular activities can help ensure students have plenty of evidence to include in both university and job applications that demonstrates they are well-rounded and have plenty of transferrable skills. For example, participation in Student Councils or on the Kings Business Enterprise scheme can show an ability to work as part of a team — or as a successful leader if a leadership position was held — and the determination to achieve goals.

Negin Nematiniaye Masooleh is currently completing a Medical Sciences degree at the University of Leeds. Speaking to us about her experience at Kings, she referenced how useful the enrichment programme had been when it came to applying to university.

"In my first year, I did Biology club and UKCAT. UKCAT classes really helped me prepare for my UKCAT exam for entering the university. Biology club was more of a fun class that we could do exciting experiments that were not usually part of our study. In my second year, I did the British Culture club. This was not technically useful for my application but it was fun to learn about this.
I was also part of the Student Council in both years. In my first year, I was the head of Charity Committee and the second year I was the secretary. Writing about my responsibilities during this time in my personal statement helped me to show the universities that I have some experience in leadership, which was an essential skill for my course."

Read more about sought-after skills gained within enrichment activities

Complementing academic studies with a way to relax

Enrichment activities can often provide a very welcome alternative to the rigours and intensity of academic study. Undertaking activities that complement class-based learning with a more relaxed pace, or which help keep the body fit as well as the mind, can be of huge benefit to our students.

As A-level students Keegan Ferreira and Thao Vy Ngo (Vy) commented:

"I joined Spanish Club! Also Photography, I did Football for a bit and also tennis and badminton club – every Wednesday. It’s a good way to relax."
"I have joined Pilates and Spanish. Pilates is for training our flexibility and keeping fit. We can ask the teacher for advice on how to keep fit and eat healthy. With Spanish, it's very fun to learn a new language."

Providing opportunities for socialising

Lastly, being part of a club or committee is a great way to spend more time with peers and make new friends. Given that extracurricular activities are likely to be undertaken with people that students don't usually interact with, it also offers the potential to meet new people with similar interests and to build friendships outside of the usual circles. This ensures that social networks are widened, and that communication and interpersonal skills are honed.

Meruyert Zhazylbekova, a former Kings Foundation student who is now studying at Lancaster University, commented specifically on how enrichment activities helped her develop these skills:

"There are a lot of extra-curricular activities, such as art — if you like drawing you can join Art Club, or there is music, singing, dancing. I really advise you to join a lot of clubs that will improve and develop your identity and your skills. I made good friends and I developed my communication and interpersonal skills, which have helped me to find a job."

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