Why School Club Participation is Deteriorating

Britney Wilson

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The bar for college admissions keeps rising higher and higher. As high school students apply to college, they quickly realize that there is a miniscule difference between them and every other high school senior in America. While students take a plethora of AP and honors classes there’s only so much taking those classes can do to improve a student’s application.

In an attempt to differentiate themselves from the pack, students will take on a surfeit number of extracurriculars. This entails staying after school several hours beyond the 2:45 bell. Whether it is the musical, drama, newspaper, yearbook, or what have you, these clubs are a major commitment; yet, high school students are engaged in several clubs, at least on paper. This creates the illusion that a certain club has a large number of members; this then causes club advisors to believe that the members will attend and participate. When the members do not participate disorder and frustration result.

The problem erupts when there aren’t enough members in the club to get the work done. For example, if a yearbook club states that there is a certain number of members, yet when there is a need for a yearbook page to be edited, none of the members are to be found, this leads to frustration not only among advisors, but also among the existing members who must pick up the work of others.

There is not a simple remedy for this problem as it requires students to sacrifice their long list of extracurriculars that they “participate” in to condense that list to the clubs the students are fully invested in. This then causes students to believe that they are inadequate and less deserving to go to a good school as they do not have a plump cushion of extracurriculars. While after school sports are qualified as extracurriculars, sports require everyday commitment in order to participate at a meet, game, match, etc. Sports will not allow members to miss practices as much as clubs will as there are plenty of people that will fill another spot on a sports team. In layman’s terms, people are more replaceable in sports.

Another issue, is that clubs are not as high on a high school student’s ever-growing list of commitments as a sport since there is a certain glory associated with winning that is not achieved by writing an article about the school musical.

At Wahpeton Public High School in Wahpeton, North Dakota, the school board voted to abolish funding for the school art club as there were only ten members and the board could not afford to fund the club any longer. This then raises the question: Does student participation determine the importance of a club to school life? If a frisbee club has forty members attending every meeting does that make that club more important than a community service club that has twelve members attending every week? Where does the cut begin and how do we determine that? If a decline in participation was not evident would we not be facing this issue? If there were more students genuinely interested in clubs, would we not be facing this issue?