How Does Involvement in Co-Curricular Activities Contribute to the Development and Success of UCLA Students? 

To explore this question, using items included in the 2016 Graduating Senior Survey, we explored how co-curricular involvement influenced students' perceptions of three main outcome areas: 

1) Professional and Personal Skill Development

2) Sense of Belonging

3) Readiness for Next Steps

Overall, students reported on 14 different types of involvement they had as students at UCLA: Student Leadership & Governance, Academic/Professional Organizations, Shared Interest Organizations, Cultural/Ethnic Campus Community Groups, Campus-Based Political Activities, Religious/Spiritual Organizations, University Outreach/Advocacy Activities, Service Organizations/Civic Engagement, Social Fraternities and Sororities, Publications and Student Media Organizations, Campus Sports and Recreation, Music/Arts/Performance Organizations, Honor Societies, Residence Hall Activities and On-Campus Employment. This brief summarizes the comparison of mean scores for “highly involved” compared to “not involved” students.



What did We Find?

Analysis revealed the following key findings:

• Regardless of the specific type of activity, involvement in co-curricular activities contributes to student development in a variety of ways.

• For all areas of involvement, highly involved students were significantly more likely to indicate that their UCLA experience contributed to their: ability to communicate effectively verbally, leadership skills, ability to work effectively in a group, and understanding of self.

• Across all types of involvement, highly involved students scored significantly higher in areas of academic self-concept and collaborative skills compared to their non-involved counterparts.

•Across all types of involvement, highly involved students were significantly more likely to agree that they "feel part of the UCLA community." 

• Students that were highly involved in Academic/Professional Organizations, Cultural/Ethnic Groups, University Outreach and Advocacy Groups, Social Fraternities and Sororities, Publications and Student Media, and Musical/Arts Performance Organizations were more likely to feel UCLA prepared them for graduate school.

How Can the Findings Inform Practice?

Given the significant influence that co-curricular involvement had on students' sense of professional and personal skill development, sense of belonging and readiness for life after college, attention should be targeted to providing programming and support in these areas.  For example, because students’ participation in co-curricular activities is a significant predictor across all three domains of student development, it behooves student affairs to be very intentional about offering programs and partnerships that provide high quality opportunities for students to develop personal and professional skills outside of the classroom.

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