This feature is part of an occasional series aimed at helping students get ready for the upcoming school year.C.W. Stacks is a physics teacher at Charlotte Latin School on Providence Road.Q: What are some benefits of being involved in extracurricular activities?Students involved in extracurricular activities have opportunities to meet other students with similar interests.They get to learn about the world around them, the needs that are out there, and they find ways they can help and make a difference.Extracurricular activities include volunteer service, athletics, music, drama, art, clubs and many other activities outside the classroom.Athletics is one of the top extracurricular activities students are involved in.In an athletic environment, students learn what it means to set goals, work towards those goals and make the sacrifices it takes to get there.Q: How important are extracurricular activities for college admissions?It's becoming very competitive in many schools. Students who do not get involved in activities outside the classroom are going to be at a disadvantage, particularly if they don't have high grades.Colleges are going to be more impressed by students who accept calculated risk.They want students who are not afraid of challenging schedules, getting involved in activities and learning how to get along with others.Colleges want to see a passion in students, a commitment to excellence in some area of their life whether it be sports, art, music, drama or community service.A commitment is not doing a couple things to check off a list.Q: Why do colleges look so closely at a student's extracurricular activities?Colleges know excellence is difficult to achieve. Students need to be determined, persistent, and to work hard. Success in some particular area inside or outside the classroom says a lot about the student's maturity, character and work ethic.It's important for students to engage with other people outside the classroom because it improves their communication skills.They learn how to interact with people, recognize the needs of others and find opportunities to get involved.Q: What are some challenges students face when getting involved in extracurricular activities?Students can find it difficult to find a balance between schoolwork and their extracurricular activities, but the key is to prioritize. As they get older, there are more demands on them.Eventually, students learn to accept what they have time for and what they don't. It's important for students not to overextend themselves.Another challenge students face is transportation.If their service project is in a different part of town and they are not old enough to drive, problems can arise in terms of their ability to commit.