The debate I am choosing to engage in is based on the following statement: “School bands are essential for successful students”. I will begin by saying that I do not fully agree with this statement in particular. Obviously, students in the past have achieved success without being in bands. However, I will argue as a proponent of this statement, under the condition that I use “school bands” as a word to represent any type of extracurricular activity. Therefore, I will argue that extracurricular programs in schools are indeed essential for successful students.
Extracurricular programs in schools are important1 because they allow young people to explore their interests, and to find what they are passionate about. Programs, such as sports, clubs, or school bands, allow students a sort of freedom in expression among their classmates and teachers that they would otherwise be unable to achieve in a formal school setting. The nature of programs like these allows students to form deeper personal connections with teachers and classmates that are unattainable in classes. These connections build friendships, and bring wisdom to students from others that are interested in the fields that they are interested in. The connections students make in these activities are often the vessels through which they discover their passions and directions in life that they wish to follow.
Extracurricular programs are essential for the mental, emotional, and often-physical, development of young people. While school bands may not necessarily be the specific program needed by students to gain success, they indeed could be. Through a school band program, a given student could find his/her love for music, composing, teamwork, making people happy, or obtaining broad knowledge in many facets of learning. This is simply one example. Many students find similar passions through sports teams, school governments, and philanthropy clubs. It does not matter what type of program a student becomes involved in. The likelihood is high that involvement in one or more programs will help the student develop a passion or at least a sense of direction in terms of life goals.
I think it is important that students participate in not just one extracurricular activity, but many. I think it is important to consider every possible passion, despite any possible preconceptions. I personally played sports all throughout my high school career. My junior year of high school I picked up guitar, which I enjoyed thoroughly. However, in addition to my many academic obligations, I had a very busy schedule with sports practices and meetings, leaving me with little time to practice guitar playing. As the end of high school came, I grew less interested in sports and more interested in guitar and actually started gaining some skill. As my skill grew, so did my passion for the instrument. Now, I play guitar for a band that takes its music and career quite seriously. I wish I had experimented with my passions earlier in my high school career, simply because I would be way better at playing guitar now. I was so focused on only committing to sports that it got in the way of exploring other potential passions.
In addition to the many intangible benefits gained from participation in extracurricular activities, these activities tend to have positive effects on academic performance as well. A study done by the United States Department of Education revealed that students who participate in extracurricular activities are 3 times more likely than students who do not participate, to have a 3.0 GPA or higher3.
High grades and test scores are incredibly important to getting into a good college. However, extracurricular activities are very important too4, and lacking a diverse portfolio of extracurricular enterprises can hurt a student’s chances at admission to his/her preferred college.
While a better GPA certainly helps a student’s chances at admission to a good college, I stress the point that extracurricular activities are a chance for students to explore what they are truly interested in. Only 27% of college graduates5, work in positions related to their college major. This number holds various meanings. Much of that percent is likely because many jobs simply don’t require a specific field of study. There are also factors such as location and age among others at play. However, some of this percentage is certainly because of the significant number of students who follow their passions after college, rather than their field of study. Many of these students are quite successful in their endeavors6, opening small businesses and working positions that make them happy.
Extracurricular activities promote teamwork, encourage leadership, improve time management skills, and not to mention look good on college resumes7. All of these qualities are crucial in becoming a well-rounded human being. The sense of direction that extracurricular activities give is invaluable. Combined with having extracurricular activities on a college resume gives students a head start to success in college, and thus hopefully in life.
In conclusion, while school bands specifically may not be essential to students’ success, extracurricular activities certainly are essential to students’ success.