Most of the classical and almost all modern educationists admit that education is not just the memorization of certain facts, figures and skills but it is all-round development of the students. So it is logical to think that extracurricular activities are the integral part of educational system. Although researchers agree that extracurricular activities do, in fact, influence academic performance, the specific effect that various activities produce is debated.
One study, conducted by the National Educational Longitudinal Study, found that “participation in some activities improves achievement, while participation in others diminishes achievement” (Broh, para. 1). For much of the 1990s, states were flush with money from a booming economy and a rapidly growing stock market. However, an inevitable downturn, combined with the terrorist attacks in the United States, left a number of states with huge revenue shortfalls.
In addition, it has left school districts in financial distress. To offset that, school districts on their part, laid off employees, cut back on bus transportation, and reduced or eliminated extracurricular activities. Fundraising is no longer just for extras, but also for necessities (Parrino, 2003). Parrino stated that as many districts look for ways to cut costs, numerous systems consider the benefits of eliminating some extracurricular activities or rescheduling them.
As with other options, such cuts have potential disadvantages, especially in terms of morale. “A study by the U. S. Department of Education revealed that students who participate in co-curricular activities are three times more likely to have a grade point average of 3. 0 or better” than students who do not participate in co-curricular activities (Stephens & Schaben, 2002, para. 4). According to Eccles (2003), children and adolescents in the United States spend more than half of their waking hours in leisure activities.
Along with interest in how leisure time is being spent, researchers are wondering why there are high levels of disinterest, underachievement, disengagement, and increased amount of time teens spend unsupervised by adults. Participation in activities has been linked to social and academic success, yet over-participation may be too stressful for young adults as it may consume too much of their free time. There are pros and cons to both sides of the activity participation discussion.