There’s a Reason it’s “Extra” Curricular

By Alyssa Soles

College students around the nation could be missing out on a critical component of their collegiate career.

Cindy Akers said students involved in extracurricular activities are more successful in and out of the classroom.

Akers is a professor and the associate dean for academic programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She received a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary agriculture, master’s in agricultural education, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, all from Texas Tech.

“I think it’s important now more than ever for students to set themselves apart,” she said, “and the way to do that is by getting involved outside the classroom.”

Organizations teach students soft skills that are hard to teach in the classroom – communication, conflict management, teamwork, and leadership. She said these are the skills employers are looking for in addition to excelling in the classroom.

Feedback she receives from employers reaffirm good grades are important, but the involvement section of the résumé is a huge weighted factor. She said employers want to see students taking responsibility and becoming part of a community.

She advises students to be in two organizations, a professional and a social. Through social organizations, a student can find value in the organization’s purpose. The professional helps students gain experiences toward a career.

Source: ResearchGate

Jay Killough has been working for Tech for 20 years, and is managing director of the Texas Tech Career Center.

He completed a bachelor’s in public relations, a master’s in interdisciplinary counseling, higher education and mass communication, and a doctorate in family and consumer sciences, all from Tech.

He said communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, information technology application, leadership, and teamwork are the core competencies employers are looking for in an applicant. The Texas Tech Career Center website defines these competencies within the marketable skills campaign.

When he picked up the stack of what he considers elite résumés from past students, he referred to an economics term, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. At a certain point, a resource stops being beneficial.

He said if an employer were to look at an applicant who has 10 different organizations on a résumé, the employer would question his or her effectiveness in each.

The Gallup Purdue Index referred to five ways to make college a success. The article states to not pad your résumé with a long list of extracurricular activities.

Besides lacking on a résumé or in an interview, he said the sense of community is missing from students who do not participate in extracurricular activities. Students who are not active in anything outside the classroom are less engaged.

Laura Ragsdale, a senior journalism major, said she is involved in Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for women, Chancellor’s Ambassadors, Mortar Board, Society of Professional Journalists, MCTV, and Tech PR.

By being involved in only one organization, a student is limited to just that field. She said her experiences with different organizations allowed insight into a broader range of backgrounds, value beliefs, and cultures.

She said one of the most important skills any of her organizations have taught her was leadership. Throughout her collegiate experience, she witnessed different leadership styles. She said she pieced together the traits she thought were admirable and incorporates them in her leadership.

Two other skills she noted being enhanced by involvement were time management and people skills. When juggling class, work, social life, and organizations, she said students have to find the right balance.

Depending on a student’s major, she recommended seeking out organizations offered for that specific major or within that college. This helps gain an understanding for the field of interest.

Ragsdale said students should get involved because there are many opportunities for growth. Classroom education and attributes a student gains from organizations are considerably different in molding a student for a career.

“I learned so much about myself through these organizations because the people in them have challenged me to be the best version of myself,” Ragsdale said. “Through my involvement, I was pushed to grow and realized who I am.”

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