By Emily Fleming-Berry
I’ve met people I would never have guessed would become some of my best friends. I’ve learned about codes and philosophy and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Last year, I travelled to the United States (and ate more food in one sitting than is ever advisable) — and it all happened because of school.
If you haven’t considered them or you’re still unsure about joining, here are just four ways that extra-curricular clubs can help you get the most out of your high school experience.
Arguably the biggest plus when joining an extra-curricular club are all the friends you’ll meet. Choose something that interests you and you’ll walk into a room filled with people who are passionate about the same thing, so you’ll never be short of conversation-starters.
Working together to train and overcome challenges helps to foster friendships, and the planned but informal environment supports you (none of the nightmare that can come with trying to organise meetings in the group chat) while you experiment and try things outside of your comfort zone.
Clubs also give you an opportunity to learn new things and overcome fears. Force yourself into public speaking in debating, learn how to code in IT, make something explode in science club — the possibilities are endless. Many people shy away from clubs because they don’t understand what their members do. This was me before I joined my school’s IT club. I thought that I would be staring at a computer screen every Wednesday lunchtime, but we worked together to build robots, entered computational thinking competitions, learned to code, made a promotional video and presented our Kokoda Track engagement solution to the Australian and Papua New Guinean Governments. Last year, as part of the VEX Robotics Worlds, we travelled to the United States and spent nine days volunteering and exploring.
If you’re a commitment-phobe, don’t worry! School clubs often meet just one lunchtime a week and are almost always free. There are also short-term competitions you can get involved with; keep an eye out for notices about OzCLO, Tournament of the Minds, The da Vinci Decathlon, yearbook contributions and, of course, sports. This way, you can meet new people and try new things without having to commit to attending meetings for the rest of the year. Anything with occasional activities, like writing once-a-term pieces for the school magazine or helping out with assemblies, is also a great option if your attention span is short or your study load is heavy.
If all this isn’t enough to convince you, universities and employers love hearing that you’re involved in extra-curricular clubs and competitions. It shows that you’re able to work well with others, have the commitment and time-management skills, pursue interests outside your subjects and are a more well-rounded person.
So what are you waiting for? Get the most out of high school and join a club (or ten)!
This article has been edited.