Extracurricular Activities & Academic Performance

Updated July 20, 2017

Current research shows that extra-curricular activities affect academic performance. Writing for the Undergraduate Research Community, Kimiko Fujita refers to studies by the U.S. Department of Education which showed a link between participation in extra-curricular activities and improved grade point averages. However, not all extra-curricular activities have the same effects on academic performance.


Music has an overall strong positive effect on students' development and academic performance. Fujita refers to various studies that support such a claim. Ponter, for example, claims that through music training, students develop higher brain functions and the critical thinking and spatial skills required for mathematics, reading, writing, science and engineering. Ponter also claims that students who participate in musical activities tend to score higher on the SAT and demonstrate a significantly higher GPA than other students. Fujita refers to other studies showing that music influences students' overall behaviour, exemplified in fewer days of absence at school.


According to Fujita, research on athletics has revealed mixed results, with some studies claiming it has a positive effect, while others maintaining that it may have negative repercussions on academic performance. However, Fujita argues that most research supports a link between participation in athletics and academic performance. Many studies, for example, focus on the general positive health effects on the body and mind, which show that regular exercise improves cognitive and mental abilities. This, in turn, is thought to lead to better academic results.

Volunteer Work

According to Hinck & Brandell (1999), volunteer work increases higher level thinking skills, has a positive effect on academic performance, and aids in the psychological, social and intellectual development of adolescents. Because of the multiple benefits involved, many schools now include community service and volunteer work in the official curriculum.


Theatre provides students with a variety of skills that benefit their general academic success. Rombokas (1995) claims that theatre is one activity that builds character skills; when students need to prepare and rehearse for a performance, it will make them more responsible and goal-oriented. Rombokas argues that extra-curricular activities can help students feel proud of their accomplishments, which can lead to higher levels of self esteem, self confidence and overall well-being. These characteristics generally correlate with better academic results.

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About the Author

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Arash Farzaneh has been writing since 1990. His articles and stories have been published in "Bewildering Stories," "The Truth Magazine," "Inscribed" and "34th Parallel." Farzaneh received the French Government Book Prize in 2001. He holds a Master of Arts in French literature from the University of British Columbia.