Participation in school-based extracurricular activities can be an effective factor in lowering the rate of early school leaving among at-risk students. Extracurricular activities are activities that students do outside the class, or joint activities during teaching time, including sports, arts, community engagement, student clubs organized around diverse hobbies or academic subjects.
In addition to having a positive impact on the development of multiple skills and competences, when it comes to early school leaving, taking part in extracurricular activities increases the students’ commitment to the institution and their feeling of belonging, in other words being an active contributing member of their school community. Being involved in such activities helps overcoming the feeling of disengagement and isolation. For students who do not feel connected to their peers or teachers, extracurricular involvement can be a gateway to reconnect with them, which has a positive overall effect on. Moreover, the feeling of connecting to others and contributing to the community has a positive impact on students’ self-esteem.
However, research also points to the fact that students with lower socioeconomic status are less likely to participate in optional extracurricular activities. It is thus highly important that relevant policies and institutional strategies provide the necessary support to make extracurricular activities accessible for every student, and help overcome barriers to participation especially for those at high risk of early school leaving.