These days, colleges and universities are not merely looking at the applicant’s grades, class rank, or test scores, but they are also paying attention to how the applicant spends his or her time outside the classroom. Participation in extracurricular activities give the admissions staff a more complete picture of what kind of person the applicant is. The admissions officer could possibly disregard an applicant’s outstanding grade point average and SAT score if they don’t do anything else but study. Universities are looking for students who show leadership, motivation, persistence, and cooperation, qualities which cannot be taught by a textbook. Classroom studies, while very important, do not encompass the whole of a student’s education. I believe that extracurricular activities are just as important as the classroom because they teach students to “be people.” My participation in activities such as marching band and scouting has taught me many valuable lessons that I would not have learned in the classroom.
For nine years I participated in Boy Scouts of America, rising to the rank of Eagle. The whole idea of scouting is to teach young boys to be well-rounded people. Whether it was putting up tents or running meetings, I learned to cooperate with the other scouts in my troop to make activities happen. To achieve each rank, I was required to hold a troop leadership position which presented me with certain responsibilities and enabled me to learn how to oversee a group of people and take care of assigned duties. Statistically only ten percent of scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. This long, grueling process taught me the value of persistence. There were times I wanted to quit, but I kept with it and achieved the Eagle rank, which was a reward for my nine years of hard work. I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in scouting to marching band.
Marching band can be considered the “ultimate team sport” because every single member must perform his or her own part, but also depend on each other in order for the show to be successful. If one person makes a mistake, surrounding marchers can be affected and even fall. One mistake can impact the entire band’s score. This is why marching band requires so much time and incessant practice. Because band is so time-consuming, I was forced to learn how to manage that little time I had outside of practice. Currently being a member of the leadership team teaches me to be a model for others and provides me with the inspiration to keep going. If the leadership of the band loses motivation, then that gives permission to the rest of the band to not care anymore as well. Although the long rehearsals in the terrible heat and late nights of homework after practice worked against me, everything I gained along the way, like new friends and self-confidence, acted as a catalyst that kept me going through it all.
I attribute a lot of who I am as a person to what I’ve done outside the classroom. While I will eventually forget many facts and formulas from classes, the lessons I’ve learned through band and scouts will stay with me for life. This is why I believe in the importance of education gained from extracurricular activities.