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I recently read an article titled After-School Activities Make Educational Inequality Even Worse by Hilary Friedman. The article suggested that organized competitive sports, which is typically associated with middle and upper-middle-class kids, helps strengthen life skills through organized competitive activities outside of the school system. This essentially perpetuates class divisions. The article cited learning from loss, time management, and adaptability as skills that youth learn in competitive after-school activities and contribute to their place in socioeconomic hierarchy as adults. I believe Friedman made valid points. Unfortunately, many of them did not apply to my teammates in organized sports during my youth. While in middle school and high school, I played on summer league basketball teams that were majority Black and middle class. Many of my teammates and their parents viewed sports as the ultimate end game. I believe when one adopts this mentality, the game is... read more

I used to ask myself that all the time when I was growing up.  I was a horrible student all the way into the second semester of my 10th grade year!  I had a difficult time concentrating in school and to be honest, there were just more important things going on in my life at the time.  I have always struggled with weight issues and being bullied, teased and tormented in school was a daily battle.  It's hard to concentrate on learning when survival is your priority and invisibility is your dream.  I did well in high school though, and eventually graduated college with a degree in Criminal Justice.   What changed?  I got involved.  I had a teacher that recognized a potential in me and fostered that by inviting me to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself.  I LOVED sports.  I know, sounds silly coming from the fat kid huh?  I did though.  I loved baseball, hockey and football the most and my teacher encouraged... read more

College admissions officers first look at test scores, grades, and the rigor of courses students take in high school. However, what are also important in the admissions process are a student’s extracurricular activities. Students are a representative of the college they attend, and it goes without saying colleges care about the character of the people they admit to their school. Extracurricular activities are a good indicator of what a student does during his or her time spent outside of school. In other words, what a student is doing over summer vacation and on the weekends, gives admission officers a good idea of what kind of individual they are considering admitting to their college. No doubt about it, volunteerism is very important; however, admissions officers are looking for real hands-on involvement. There is a difference between the student that volunteers once to collect money for a charity and the student who spends every Saturday helping clean up city parks. The... read more

High schools are filled with enticing after-school activities, including sports, other competitions, and clubs of all kinds.  These provide an often-welcome diversion from the grind of classes and homework; they enable students to make new friends, get exercise, learn or refine a skill, and build positive traits such as teamwork.  But they also take hours from a short day, posing time management challenges that sometimes result in sleep deprivation.   Eventually, schoolwork and grades may suffer when students take on more extracurriculars than they can handle.  Setting priorities and finding a proper balance between the classroom and extracurricular activities are family conversations worth having.  As parents, we want our kids to be "well-rounded."  As a tutor, however, I see first-hand the negative impact of too many, or too burdensome, activities.   We may not have to agree with Amanda Ripley's tough critique of American... read more

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