Becoming involved on campus in extracurricular activities and student support programs allow students to gain access to many academic benefits during their community college journey. Unfortunately, according to Abell and Schmid (2003) many community college students attend these institutions without ever becoming involved. There are many factors that contribute to student’s lack of involvement on campus, ranging from employment, family obligations, commuter status to lack of awareness that such resources even exist. Regardless of which factor is responsible for the lack of student engagement on campus, the issue is problematic. However, this paper will focus on the benefits that are associated with involvement in student support programs and extracurricular activities, in hopes it will create an interest for students to become involved on campus.
Academic benefitsCommunity Colleges offer a variety of student support services and extracurricular activities that assist students with academic support. For example, there are programs like PUENTE, TRIO, CalWORKs, Guardian Scholars, EOPS and others that contribute to student’s efforts towards academic persistence. Many of these programs offer specialized academic counseling and access to in program tutoring services that help prepare students to be academically ready for college. In addition to student support programs, clubs and athletics are also extracurricular activities which influence academic growth and prosperity among students. As Cooper (2010) states “A modest body of research suggests that student support services play a role in promoting successful outcomes for community college students” (p.22).
Student engagement in programs and activities give students the opportunity to. .that in her study, “participants ‘ most meaningful contact was with instructors on campus, many of whom invited students into the higher education “club” by creating feelings of comfort, support, and respect” (p. 40). According Leah A. Barrett (2014), she explained in her dissertation that individuals in community college obtain their “information”, both academic and social, via informal networks, such as from alumni of the school.
Catherine Flaga explains that the informal networks are used as “a highly utilized resource for learning about the academic, social, and physical environments of the university (p.10)”. Take into account the strong relationship that students have with instructors and the positive benefit that alumni have supporting current students are important points to consider of the social aspects present for a student’s success in community college.