THE EFFECT OF PRE-COLLEGE EXTRACURRICULAR PARTICIPATION ON FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE ENGAGEMENT AND COMPLETION
This study examines how student pre-college participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer and community services varies by demographic and academic variables, and how their experience participating in these activities affects first-year college engagement and learning outcomes. The analysis focuses on students at the University of California’s (UC) nine undergraduate campuses and is based on the self-reported data that compares their high school experience with their first year experience at UC. Students differ significantly in their participation in precollege activities by gender, ethnicity, family income, and college admissions status. URM’s and socioeconomically disadvantaged students are less likely to participate in these activities. Those who are admitted to UC are likely to participate in more precollege activities. The study also shows that there is a positive correlation between student precollege participation in these activities and their college experience, academic and civic engagement although the relationship is rather weak. The results also reveal that the participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer and community services is a significant predictor on first-year GPA and persistence. The more activities students participate in, the higher their first-year GPA is and the more likely they persist with their current college programs. These findings will be useful for effective development of admissions policy and enrollment management. It also may help high schools and universities to expand or re-organize their out-of-class activities to encourage greater student engagement for targeted populations.