Extracurricular activities can enhance a student’s school experience in many ways. Talented athletes and actors can achieve acclaim for their talents, while many school clubs and projects offer educational and social opportunities that aren’t available in the classroom. But extracurricular activities have their negative aspects, too. Students should be aware of the potential pitfalls of those activities to make sure their school experience is as positive as possible.

Managing Time Commitments

Teenagers often struggle with time management, and some extracurricular activities demand more time and energy than many students can handle. If you’re a student who needs a little longer than your peers to finish your homework, an activity that takes up several hours every afternoon after school may not leave you with sufficient time to get all your work done. An alternative might be to get involved with clubs or activities that only meet once or twice a week or that only meet for short periods after school.

Becoming Consumed by an Activity

You may choose an activity that leaves enough time for school work and other priorities, but you might choose to devote your extra time and attention to that extracurricular interest. For example, you may love being involved with the drama program at your school because you love performing or working backstage, and it’s where your best friends are. So, instead of staying after class to get extra help when you need it or keeping up with your assignments or following through on chores at home or other priorities, you hang out at the auditorium or going over your lines and songs at home, leaving everything else undone until it's too late to catch up.

Might Be the Wrong Activity

If you're going to commit to an extracurricular activity, it should be one that you're interested in and that is rewarding to you. Parents may push certain activities with good intentions, but if piano lessons are stressful because you'd rather be playing basketball, talk with your parents about your feelings. Maybe you can find a compromise, such as a temporary break from lessons during basketball season.

Less Unstructured Play Time

When much of a young person’s life is scheduled, little time remains for the carefree moments that foster discovery and imagination. This is especially true in younger children, who need to be able to simply play and allow their minds to develop new games, instead of following a rigid schedule established by parents and other grown-ups. If you have a young child who has lessons, sports practice and other structured activities throughout the week, think about whether he's getting enough "kid time." If he seems stressed or over-scheduled, drop an activity and allow for some simple activities like tree climbing, informal games or free play with friends and family.