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Smarter Living: the benefits of extracurricular activities for your child

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Whether your child is preparing to meet high school requirements for college or is just interested in getting involved in an activity they enjoy, this week's installment of "Smarter Living" will look at the benefits of extracurricular activities.

Braska Williams is the Coordinator of the NC-MSEN Pre-College Program at N.C. State and has been involved in education for 23 years. He says for those trying to make their college application stand out from the rest, it's important to be careful of watering down the application with too many extracurricular activities.

"The colleges know the game. They're hip to it as well; it's about the quality and not the quantity," he says.

Williams says it's more impressive to be involved in a long-term activity and to show leadership as opposed to sporadic, short-term activities.

"Extracurricular activities will never trump a strong academic record when it comes to going to college," he says.

Extracurricular activities are important to help students socially and to teach them leadership skills and to have adult role models, Williams says. Athletics and other school clubs, as well as volunteering at nonprofits also look good on an application.

Another thing that looks good on a college application? A part-time job.

"That's a great opportunity when they work part-time because they learn responsibility," Williams says.

Some companies even provide workers with money for school or scholarship opportunities.

Academic camps at local colleges are another option for students, one that colleges look at, according to Williams.

"The university looks at that as well as a factor," he says. "It's not the only factor, but it's kind of one of the factors they'll look at as well."

Williams offers a word of caution to parents: don't push your kids too hard.

"Sometimes as parents we want to push our kids, but there's a balance with that," he says. "It's better for your child to really be involved in something they truly, truly have a true interest in."

Obviously, with extracurricular activities on top of classwork, it's important to balance the activities with school. Too many activities can negatively impact a student's GPA.

It's important to make sure your child gets their rest and if you notice grades dropping or your child seems overwhelmed, it's time to cut back on activities.

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