So what's in it for you? You get to explore your physical, creative, social, political, and career interests with like-minded people. You'll find friends: Trying something different may bring you in contact with people you didn't know who share your interests and curiosity.
You can get involved with groups as a way to get support from other students with your background, such as Latino or Jewish clubs. A club or group also can be a great way to meet people who are different from you. Lots of youth programs bring people together with those who are different as a way to break down the barriers between people. Mark, a senior who lives in Washington, DC, discovered this when he volunteered for a group that uses baseball as a way to bring special-education kids and kids with disabilities together with regular kids.
Participating in extracurricular activities helps you in other ways, too: It looks good on college and job applications and shows admissions officers and employers you're well-rounded and responsible. Specific activities help with specific goals — if you want to teach language or get a bilingual job, being the president of the Spanish club shows the depth of your commitment.
The most basic reason for joining a club or team is that it gives you something better to do than staring at the wall, wandering the hall, or napping all afternoon. People who are involved and engaged are less likely to become addicted to bad habits, like smoking or drinking.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
It's easy to join one too many exciting activities. Ask as many questions as possible before you join. Sit down with your school schedule, work schedule, and other activities and try to map out what's realistic. Are you taking a class this semester that requires extra studying time? Do you need to focus on grades? Does your bus only come once an hour by the time practice is over instead of every 15 minutes? Will you have time to eat, sleep, and relax? Everyone needs downtime. If an...