What is more important as preparation for future occupational success? Is it true that academic achievement is more important than participation in extracurricular activities? Personally, I think there is no clear cut answer. I think the student should first know what he or she wants to do in the future, and then list down all the necessary skills and knowledge that he or she must have to be able to succeed in his or her chosen field. After all, education must be holistic. It should prepare not only the mind, but the body as well.
Of course, in some cases, it would seem that academic achievement is more important than extra-curricular activities. For example, if a student wants to be a broker, the assumption is that he should study hard so he could get a college degree in one of the top universities and major in economics. However, if one has read The Liar’s Poker, then one would know that academic achievement (or economics, for that matter) is that important for a broker. A broker should know how to handle stress, to keep his cool under pressure, to deal with people and establish good rapport, and develop excellent salesmanship.
All these things one would learn not from textbooks, but from interacting with other people and engaging in extra-curricular activities like fund-raising activities for the cheerleading team or charity. On the other hand, it is understandable why some counselors would point out that participating in extra-curricular activities is more important than achievement success. Traits like hardiness (or the ability to cope with pressure), teamwork, and resilience are acquired from real situations than from theoretical settings.
Further, if the student would want to become a football player or a journalist, immersion in the football team or the school newspaper will better equip and prepare the student with practical knowledge and skills for their chosen fields. However, even a football player and a budding journalist need good grades to land a spot in the university. It can be argued that an exceptionally good football player and budding journalist might be spotted by an agent and need not have to go to university, like the star basketball player Le Bron James.
Then again, how many students can lay claim to that? It seems absurd to put all of one’s eggs in one basket hoping that an agent will spot you. It is easy to see why the aspiring journalist needs to have good grades – she needs to prove her command of the language is impeccable. The football player should also take his studies seriously – playing football requires a more rigorous exertion of the mind to strategize game plays and calculate the force needed to win a game, using practical physics and lessons from history.
Further, it seems that the football player should also learn about health and fitness – the body cannot sustain that much physical pressure for so long. Biology and health education are important subjects. Education is still something that once acquired, nobody can take away from you. So although extra-curricular activities can train the mind and body and equip the student with the needed preparation, academics is still an important aspect that cannot be overlooked.
For practical reasons, since the report card still lends some credibility to the student’s character, and most employers still require the transcript of grades. For personal reasons, because real academic success translates itself to knowledge. So is academic achievement or extra-curricular activities more important? I think that the student should find a balance between the two, because without one or the other, a high school education cannot be deemed complete preparation for life after school, be it may college or a pursuit of a career.