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Co-curricular activities are those activities that take place outside of the regular classroom. In this lesson, we’ll explore the definition of co-curricular activities as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Co-Curricular Activities

Amy is a busy high school student. She is very focused on her regular core studies, but she is also involved in the school band and likes to participate in the debate club.

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Amy loves taking part in many activities, but she knows that it is important to balance her time and manage her priorities so as not to become overwhelmed. The activities that she is involved in, also called co-curricular activities, are important to her and she wants to be successful in everything she does.Co-curricular activities are activities that take place outside the classroom but reinforce or supplement classroom curriculum in some way. They are ungraded and do not offer any form of academic credit, but they do provide complementary learning of some form. Examples of co-curricular activities might include National Honor Society, student council, school sports teams, math clubs, chess clubs, talent shows, spelling bees, writing competitions, debates, mock trials, school newspapers, and drama productions.

All of these activities take place outside the traditional classroom and offer no grade or academic credit, but they provide supplementary and complementary instruction and education for students.

Extracurricular Activities

It should be noted that there is a definite, though sometimes fuzzy difference between co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Where co-curricular activities are connected in some way to the school and to academic learning, extracurricular activities step outside of this realm. Extracurricular activities are those activities that occur outside of the educational setting and do not provide instruction or experience to supplement the academic curriculum. Involvement in a sport that happens outside of the school, for example, would be considered an extracurricular activity. Other examples of extracurricular activities might include church related activities, music classes that are not associated with the school, dance recitals, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or martial arts competitions.

Co-Curricular Advantages

Co-curricular activities can provide students with a lot of interesting and important experiences outside the traditional classroom. There are many advantages to involvement in co-curricular activities, including:

  • Allowing students to explore strengths and talents outside of academics
  • Helping students develop stronger time-management and organizational skills
  • Teaching the importance of following through on commitments
  • Giving students the opportunity to build friendships and participate in group activities outside of the tight circle of the regular classroom
  • Helping to build confidence and self-esteem
  • Providing a way to keep students supervised outside of school hours
  • Channeling their energies in positive directions rather than toward drug abuse or crime
  • Building skills that are not necessarily taught in the classroom but are still important for the future
  • Looking good on a school transcript or college application

Co-Curricular Disadvantages

While there are many advantages to student involvement in co-curricular activities, there are also some disadvantages. These disadvantages should be taken into consideration before encouraging student participation in co-curricular activities:

  • Time constraints might become a concern, especially if students take on too many co-curricular activities at the same time
  • Students might become frustrated if they find they have lost interest or are unable to fulfill commitments to their co-curricular activity choices
  • Co-curricular activities sometimes come with financial commitment
  • Co-curricular activities sometimes require parental commitment
  • Students might become overly tired or even exhausted with too many events going on at the same time
  • Students might find themselves stretched too thin which could, in turn, require them to make decisions between academics and other activities – and they may not always make the right decision


In many cases, students who are involved in co-curricular activities need assistance to learn how to balance them with their regular studies. Here are several suggestions that teachers or administrators might make as students learn to juggle their time and attention between both types of activities:

  1. Learn how to carefully manage your time. Develop a schedule and stick to it.
  2. Never procrastinate. Try to never put off what you can get done in any given time period.

    Taking breaks is okay, but putting things off until you find yourself crunched for time will only cause unnecessary stress.

  3. Stay organized. Organization is key to balancing multiple commitments and multiple tasks. Make sure you are not wasting valuable time trying to locate missing items or remember what is expected of you.
  4. Don’t take on too much. If you feel like you reach a point where there is just too much going on, take a step back and prioritize your commitments.

    Remember that your schooling should always stay at the forefront of your efforts.

  5. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t let yourself get in too deep. If you are struggling, there is no shame in asking your parents or teachers for some assistance.

Lesson Summary

There are notable differences between co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Co-curricular activities are activities that take place outside of the classroom but are still tied to the classroom curriculum in some way. Examples include math clubs, spelling bees, student council, and school theater. Extracurricular activities also take place outside of the classroom, but they are not tied to school in any way. Examples of extracurricular activities include non-school related sports, music lessons, or Boy or Girl Scouts.

There are many advantages to student involvement in co-curricular activities. At the same time, there are also disadvantages. It is important to have an awareness of both the positive and the negative as students move into co-curricular involvement.Teaching students how to balance their involvement in co-curricular activities with regular school curriculum is also important.

By reinforcing techniques such as organization, time management, and the ability to ask for help, we can help students maintain that balance and keep their priorities in line.

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