Getting involved wards off trouble

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

April is right around the corner, and for many of us that means it’s time to start hunting for summer jobs and internships if you’re not on the ball already.

So what determines whether or not you land that well paying job or internship of your dreams? Is it the grades you receive in classes specified towards your major? How about your overall GPA? Does prior experience come into effect? Can extracurriculars send your resume soaring above the rest?

While all of the above do play some role in being hired either as an employee or an intern, today I will only be focusing on involvement in extracurricular activities.

According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, the definition of extracurricular is ‘being outside the regular curriculum of a school or college or being outside the usual duties of a job or profession.’

These activities can range from sports, to volunteer work, to specified clubs like The Key Yearbook or sororities and fraternities on campus. And while they most certainly do have an effect on a person’s chances of landing their dream job, they can also play another extremely important role in someone’s life as well.

For teenagers and young adults growing up in inner-city areas or places where gangs and violence arise, extracurriculars can be a way to escape the pressures of joining in on a life that will only end in disappointment.

Take for example, the case of 18-year-old Ryan Driggins, the former center for the Glenville High School Tarblooders whose story was featured in the Plain Dealer this past weekend.

As a troubled young boy who often acted out in class and at home, he found a role model in the Tarblooders football coach, Ted Ginn Sr.

After turning his life around and becoming an active member of the football team, Driggins graduated and decided to stay in Cleveland, ‘leaving him with no coaches, no practices and no games for the first time in years.’

Instead of filling his free time with more social activities or volunteering in the community however, he turned to a life full of violence and crime. He was arrested twice this fall and on Feb. 28, Driggins broke into a house with a group of friends and shot and killed the owner of the house, Glenn Rankin, a 69-year-old retiree.

Now, instead of running football fields and catching passes, Driggins spends his time in the county jail. He is charged with burglary, robbery and aggravated murder, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Unfortunately, cases such as Driggins’ occur every year throughout much of the country. Troubled students who became involved in extracurricular while in school are left with nothing to do after they graduate. Regrettably, like Driggins, the activities they begin to fill their time with are not always the wisest.

According to a 2005 study conducted by the Yale Psychology Department, teen pregnancies, drug abuse, violence and suicide are just some of the problems appearing in high school dropouts and college graduates.

However, statistics show that the rates of the problematic behaviors listed above have actually dropped due to an increase in participation in extracurriculars outside of the schoolyard setting.

According to one of the researchers, ‘busyness is good, as it leaves no time for that sort of messiness.’

The idea that students and adults who are involved in extracurriculars, both in school and in the community, are better off than those who are not is simply not that far-fetched. Extracurriculars give those who become involved in them a worthwhile break. They give students a chance to socialize productively, and give college graduates a chance to create a life outside of their potentially stress-filled jobs.

For those of you graduating this May and for those of you moving on in three years, remember the positive effects of extracurriculars when the stress pushed upon just seems like too much.

Although some people may tell you that certain outside activities will only increase the amount of stress one feels, according to the Yale study, ‘extracurriculars are relievers of stress that decrease the gaps during the day during which people have nothing to do but dwell on troubles.’

Not only do extracurriculars relieve stress and assist people in landing their dream job or internship as noted before, but they also can keep teens and young adults out of trouble, preventing talented students like Ryan Driggins from making mistakes that will affect the rest of their lives.

Send comments to Kristen Vasas at [email protected]