CCA or study?
The most obvious tradeoff is between CCA and your grade. We all have only 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Participating in a school club or activity definitely takes a portion of the time available from you. Very often students sacrifice their study time for CCA. While most of the activities normally end two weeks before the final exams start, students may still find it difficult to catch up with one semester of work in different subjects. More importantly, a large number of university modules use Continuous Assessment (CA) plus the final exams. Students who are busy during the semester often find it challenging to find time to revise to quizzes or mid-term papers, which may pull down their scores for their finals in the end. Hence if you realize that CCA eats into too much of your time, or you realize that reducing your commitment in CCA can substantially boost your grades, you may want to prioritize study over CCA.
Why? Isn’t CCA about holistic development that should be as important as study? We agree with that idea, but would like to suggest that holistic development is based upon students meeting minimum academic threshold. The threshold you face depends on your circumstances. For all university students, they need to maintain an average passing grade to be allowed to progress to the next academic year. If you are a scholarship holder, you need to maintain a GPA that is much higher than the university passing grade. If you want to apply for graduate studies, you need to maintain a respectable grade to be admitted to a good graduate program. If you are applying for a job, you also need to reach the minimum GPA that you future employers are looking for. Hence check your circumstance and know the minimum grade that you need to reach. If you fall short of the requirement, do spend more time on study.
Sometimes CCA may also help you study in an indirect way. If you go to a university that requires students to bid for a place in its residential hall by hall points, CCA becomes very important. Most likely, hall points are given according to one’s CCA commitment, such as the tier of the club one is in or the leadership position one is holding. Generally speaking, greater commitment translates into greater hall points. In a word, if you spend more time for CCA, you are more likely to get a place in a hall. Living in a hall offers you great advantages especially if you live far away from campus. The traveling time saved can well be spent on more study (provided that you choose to use the extra time for study). Since you are traveling every day during the weekday and your CCA mostly does not happen on five days, you stand a net gain in time. But do look into the specifics of your situation. If you live near your university and your CCA requires unusually high commitment, such as some sports club or performing arts club that require even training on weekend, the balance may change.
How about leadership positions?
Joining a club as a member may not take up too much of your time, but how much higher leadership positions? Holding a leadership position demands higher time commitment and gives you higher stress as you are responsible for the running of the club. However, it also gives you higher hall points. If you plan to apply for a place in hall, it is advisable that you take up leadership position of some sort, as being a member seldom gives one enough points. If you fall short of the minimum points that you need, you may wait sometimes up to one semester to get a room, almost defeating the purpose of applying for hall.
If you decide to take up leadership position, you may wish to consider the following:
- Doing something you like makes you do better and you naturally enjoy greater responsibility.
- If you do not have preferences, try to look for larger clubs that give you more varied experiences and more hall points.
- Lastly, be involved in the club where you want to take up leadership position while you are in year one or year two. It takes time for you to show your ability and commitment to be a leader.
(If you just join a club in your year three, most likely people are not convinced that you are a suitable candidate for important leadership positions. On your side, you may be busy with final year project or finding a job or internship towards more senior years of your study. Your energy and ambition to be involved in a school club may also diminish. )
While CCA is an important part of your education, it is never an absolute good. It can be put aside for a greater good. Do a balanced analysis as to whether you should join a CCA and how involved you should be.