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Adults Who Participated in High School Extracurricular Activities Earn More Money

Don't be embarrassed if you went to band camp. It turns out being in clubs raises future earnings by almost 12 percent.

Were you one of those students who signed up for every high school club under the sun? A proud attendee of band camp? If so, chances are you're making more money than your peers who skated through school without participating in extracurricular activities. Recent research by Cleveland State University economics professor Vasilios D. Kosteas shows that participation in clubs correlates with higher future earnings, and might increase the likelihood that a student will end up becoming a supervisor.


It's long been known that participating in extracurricular activities helps high school students develop social skills, which college admissions officers and future employers certainly appreciate. But Kosteas' analysis of data from more than 5,000 Americans found that being involved in extracurricular activities in high school raises future earnings by 11.8 percent, which is the equivalent of "more than two-and-a-half additional years of schooling."

He also found that people who participated in academic clubs, yearbook, or the student council were more likely to end up in supervisory positions. He theorizes that the skills they learn in those clubs "are very important in management positions, affecting a person’s ability to supervise others and making these skills an important determinant of promotions and the assignment of supervisory responsibility." (In addition, students who are in academic clubs probably have higher grades in the first place—someone getting a C in math doesn't exactly want to be in the academic decathalon—so they're set up to succeed in a number of ways.)

Kosteas' findings are certainly food for thought at a time when, thanks to budget cuts, school districts are looking to slash any programs that aren't perceived as essential. Cutting the yearbook may save money in the short term, but denying students the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities has costs that aren't immediately apparent.

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