UC | Extracurricular activities compulsory
More and more companies ask candidates to take an intelligence test, even before inviting them for a job interview. This is one of the reasons why your grades become less important in your job application. And are we not becoming increasingly similar as students? We complete our studies faster, follow an internship at a respectable company, and end up with practically the same diplomas. How do you stand out from the rest?
Research shows that the business sector cares mainly about relevant extracurricular activities that students have done during their studies. Simply following classes just doesn’t cut it anymore. User data from online network Magnet.me shows a correlation between the number of hours a student spends on extracurricular activities and the number of times he or she was approached with a job offer. Job seekers who have devoted between 1,000 and 1,500 hours on extracurricular activities are approached 32 percent more frequently than those who have spent between 0 and 100 hours. The number for those who have spent more than 3,000 hours is even higher: 52 percent.
Participating in extracurricular activities – such as a year of membership on a board, voluntary work, or participation in a student team – proves that you have certain skills, for instance in management, and that you know how to deal with responsibility. It also proves that you know how to collaborate, which requires certain social skills. You will not pick up any of these skills simply by dutifully following classes.
Still, the number of hours we spend on extracurricular activities has dropped drastically. Students who started with their studies in 2005 spent an average of 601 hours on extracurricular activities. That is significantly more than students who started in 2013 and who are now completing their studies. They only spend an average of 201 hours on extracurricular activities. This drop of 67 percent is quite shocking. An increasing number of students even chooses not to partake in any such activities at all.
What is the reason for this? Our generation is given less time for these activities. In the past, no one frowned upon students who took ten years to complete their studies, but to our generation, the following rule applies: nominal = normal. We experience a huge pressure to complete our studies successfully and in time. The abolition of the basic grant and the introduction of the student loan system doesn’t exactly help either, because studying longer now leads to higher debts. The introduction of enrollment quotas for certain programs also adds to the stress our first-year students experience. For instance, stopping before February 1 so you can try again next year is no longer an option.
And there is also a large group of students on our campus who do not recognize the importance of extracurricular activities. If you don’t come into contact with student teams or one of the many associations, you run the risk of being completely unaware of the opportunities to improve yourself outside of your studies.
So, we need more appreciation for undertaking activities beside your study. Taking part in extracurricular activities is more important than ever if you want to improve your chances in the job market, where you will have to stand out from the rest. It is of crucial importance that students start to realize the added value of extracurricular activities. Shouldn’t these activities simply become a compulsory part of a student’s program at TU/e?