Why is staying at school longer worth it Lucia Posluchová I remember days of school, when I went home only for sleeping over and many tests, which I studied for during nights. I scored in absences from classes every year, however, most of them were not caused by health issues. The reason was that I dedicated a substantial part of my free time to extracurricular activities. My story began very simply; by searching for new experiences, places and people. When I was looking for my very own place at the school in my first year, I searched primary in school clubs and societies. I just wanted to belong somewhere. I decided to try everything, what could be possibly close to my interests and at the same time, I attempted to get to know myself – figure out, what I like to do and what should be my direction to take. I started in students’ school council, debate club and school journal. In fact, all of those were pretty ordinary activities, each of them in the different afternoon. Nothing more than normal after-school meetings of few students. What had begun so simply, maybe even banally, brought to my life gradually some occasions, not really prominent ones at the first sight, but I tried to catch them. Of course that all of them did not turn out well, but those which did, were definitely worth it. Thanks to different activities and competitions, I travelled not only across Slovakia but also Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Luxembourg or Finland. Up to now, I think back to this period of trips and stays as one of the happiest and most beneficial periods of my life. I passed polar circle, I spoke in the buildings of Slovak and Hungarian parliament, I met people, who I read about in newspapers nowadays, I found great friends, I was there, when the debate club, which we had set running, became one of the best in Slovakia and finally, I helped with leading European youth project… just because sometimes I stayed at school a bit longer. Maybe all those great things and occasions seem to be unreachable sometimes. You can always find million obstacles, complications and reasons to remain safely in your comfort zone. Nobody will ever return you back the time you spent by extra work, that time which you could otherwise spend with your friends or with family. Our bodies remember past sleep debts even if you have already sleep enough. It is possible to excuse absences from classes, however, you will not get any extra lessons for explaining you the topics you missed due to extracurricular activities. But the good side of this is that you will not get only numerous great experiences for return, but also a ticket to the high-quality university. I do not support the well-known cliché, that your grades do not mean anything. Unfortunately, they do – therefore it is not very wise to not care about school at all. Your grades at least approximately reflect your ability to deal with the curriculum. However, grades are not enough. Once, when you will stand in a row of many university applicants, excellent grades will pass you to the shortlist. But this smaller group will be probably still so large, that you will have to differentiate yourself from the others by something else. And here, ladies and gentlemen, extracurricular activities come to the scene. All those long evenings and days, when you were the last one who left school will be well appreciated. Last and maybe the most important benefit of those activities, (which I observe with the time distance) is identifying my general abilities and improving them. You can’t get the skills of critical thinking, creativity, argumentation of fluent speech by memorising for school tests. Unfortunately, there is just precious little of time for those activities in the current high school curriculums and here you have two options. Either you can be angry and accuse the system of not preparing you for the life, either you can prepare for the life yourself, independently of the system. Until recently, I could not imagine my dream job. I confess, that I even chose my domain on university somehow intuitively. I could never tell which subjects at school I like the most, but I knew which activities I like to do the most and those were my footholds when I decided about my university. I will not become diplomat or politician, but thanks to all those Model United Nations and debate competitions I found out that I enjoy problem-solving and considering things from various perspectives. That was how I discovered the charm of communication and language use. When organising events, I understood that I desperately need creativity in my life. And finally, all those inspiring people who I met thanks to the extracurricular activities persuaded me that I want to keep meeting new people and I long for the work with people. Finally, after my first year of the university, I can say that I cannot imagine any more appropriate domain option for me – I study marketing communication with PR and human sciences at Charles University in Prague. Currently, during summer holidays, I have an internship in one of the best advertising agency in Slovakia and I gradually discover my dream job. Just because I stayed at school a bit longer.
Lucia Posluchová, Charles University, Prague, Faculty of social sciences