Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


Adolescence, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Student Engagement


Over the last few decades, a growing body of research has linked extracurricular activity participation with positive outcomes among high school students. Extracurricular activities often provide a rich environmental context for positive youth development, given that they provide opportunities for identity formation, the creation of interpersonal connections, and the development of social, emotional, academic, and/or career-related skills. However, there are no studies to date examining the relationship between extracurricular activity involvement and student outcomes among students enrolled in rigorous high school curricula (e.g., Advanced Placement [AP] and International Baccalaureate [IB]). The purpose of the current study was to extend the current understanding of the relationship between extracurricular activity involvement and academic and mental health outcomes for youth enrolled in AP and IB programs by investigating the levels of extracurricular activity participation among AP/IB students, and examining whether participation predicted student success in terms of academic and mental health outcomes. Given the increased academic demands faced by this group of students, this study aimed to also investigate the overscheduling hypothesis to see whether there was a curvilinear relationship between extracurricular activity involvement and student success (i.e., a point of diminishing return). In addition, this study examined whether the program type (i.e., AP or IB) moderated the relationship between extracurricular activity participation and student outcomes. Using data obtained from a larger research project led by Dr. Shannon Suldo and Dr. Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick (Institute of Education Science: R305A100911), results indicated that on average, AP and IB students (N= 2,379) reported being involved in 3-4 different extracurricular activity types and spent approximately 5-9 hours per week involved in extracurricular activities. Findings also revealed that compared to AP students, IB students participated in a greater number of types of activities (3.38 vs. 3.89) and more hours of activities per week (3.03 vs. 3.18, where “3” corresponds to 5-9 hours per week). Although a significant difference in the overall levels of involvement in extracurricular activities was observed between AP and IB students, these differences did not translate into differences in associations between extracurricular involvement and student outcomes. Finally, this study found significant linear associations between the breadth of extracurricular activity participation and higher levels of life satisfaction, lower levels of psychopathology, higher GPAs, and higher AP/IB exam scores. Significant linear relationships between the intensity of extracurricular activity participation and lower levels of psychopathology and higher GPAs were also observed. Regarding the overscheduling hypothesis, results from the current study found curvilinear relationships between breadth of participation and AP/IB exam scores and GPA, with optimal levels of breadth of 4.1 and 5.2 types of extracurricular activities, respectively. Moreover, curvilinear relationships were also observed between intensity of participation and students’ psychopathology and GPA, with optimal intensity scores of 3.2 and 3.3 (i.e., between the “5-9” and “10-19” hours per week response option categories), indicating that participation in 20 or more hours of activities per week was associated with diminishing outcomes. Implications of findings for school psychologists and educational stakeholders, as well as future directions for research are discussed.