With my senior year of high school almost complete, I’ve learned just how important it is to be a part of extracurricular activities. From my daily dance classes, weekly National Honor Society meetings, and internship with Kuder, I know what it means to be busy.

When you’re a high school student struggling with loads of homework every night plus a part-time job or internship, it can be hard to find time to add more to your overflowing plate. But as tough as it may seem, I’m here to tell you that there are 3 big reasons why you should be involved in your community and high school.

1. Boosts Your Resume and College Applications

Colleges and employers look at countless applications. Sometimes test scores and GPAs aren’t enough to decide between you and another applicant. If you’re an employer or college dean, you want to add someone to your team who is a well-rounded individual.

Seeing what someone does in their free time reveals a lot about their character. If the applicant has been an active volunteer, it shows that they enjoy giving back and helping others. If they played a sport, they’re probably a team player who likes to be challenged and isn’t afraid of being competitive. Being involved shows how you’re a committed and driven student, that you can stick with an activity and excel at it, which translates to them that you will be a loyal employee/student and will be constantly trying your very best. It demonstrates that you know what it means to have a healthy balance between having fun and working hard.

Extracurricular activities often provide opportunities to gain leadership skills. For example, even if you’re not able to fill a leadership position in a club right away, you can learn simply by observing others what it means to manage and direct a group. Over time, if you get the chance to take on a leadership position, go for it. Leadership skills are both valuable and necessary to have in the workplace and classroom. Having leadership experience means you have good interpersonal and communication skills, you’re proactive and take initiative, and you know how to delegate and motivate a team.

By being involved during your high school years, you’re showing who you are as a person outside the classroom and what you have to offer the business or college aside from your academic achievements. Being involved helps you stand out from your peers, which can give you an advantage in the application process.

2. Makes You Happier

Doing an activity can allow you to connect with people. You’ll find yourself interacting with individuals from different social groups with whom you share similar interests, which means you’ll make long-lasting friendships.

Engaging in interests outside the classroom also gives you a much-needed break from your schoolwork. Extracurriculars can inspire you and help lead you to possible career options. And – despite the effort it takes to fit it into your schedule – you’ll find yourself smiling because you’re doing something that makes you happy.

3. Better Prepares You for the Future

As you grow up, life gets harder. At times it can be quite challenging to manage, but making the time to be involved in your community or school can help you gain skills for the future, such as the value of time management, which is crucial to know and understand before you head to college.

I’m talking about tangible skills you can add to your resume and high school brag sheet! For example, I’ve been dancing my whole life, and when I started high school I thought I should cut back and spend less hours at the studio so I would have more time and wouldn’t be stressed about my schoolwork. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Sticking with dance was the best decision I ever made. Although at times it can become overwhelming managing my dance, school, friends, and other activities, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Staying committed has really paid off. I know how to work hard and in a timely manner. When I have dance until 9 p.m. some nights and a paper due the next day, I only have a few hours to get it done so I can get some sleep. That motivates me to work faster and more efficiently. I know how to balance my time between my activities and schoolwork and am less likely to procrastinate.

I’ve also learned study habits that I will put to use in college. I’ve seen the difference using a planner and calendar makes in my life and how they can help me stay organized. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to enrich my high school experience with outside activities because not only am I more prepared for college, I’m more aware of what the real world is like.

Being involved is so important, no matter what that involvement may be. I strongly encourage others to seek out an internship of any kind while in high school. It’ll give you a chance to experience and work in the area you’re possibly interested in studying before you go off to college, so you’ll be able to truly see what it’s like. You might even be able to rule out a career that’s not the right fit for you. Doing an internship while you’re in high school helps you get a better understanding overall of what you want to be doing with your life. It also helps you develop meaningful relationships with professionals that you can potentially use as references in the future. You can develop professional skills and better prepare for what life will be like after college. When applying for internships in college, your previous internship experience will help set you apart from your peers.