dictionary and thesaurus

Today we have a fantastic addition to the Glossary of Confusing Words.  The word is "extracurricular," and the person who submitted it said they found it in their school reference and didn't know what it meant.

Extracurricular is one of those great words that, if you break it down, actually tells you what it means.  Take a look:

Extra = outside of

You might have heard aliens referred to as "extraterrestrial" (outside of earth).  Or maybe you know someone who's had an "extramarital" affair (outside of their marriage).  When "extra" is used as a prefix it means "outside of."

Curricular = related to a school's academic program

In a previous Glossary entry, we defined "curriculum" as the set of courses offered by a university or program.

So if something is extracurricular, it is outside of a school's academic program.

Most often you'll hear this word in the context of extracurricular activities.  These are activities that happen at a school but are not part of the coursework, like clubs or sports.  In the U.S. extracurricular activities are a big part of student life.

[Read about why extracurricular activities were the best part of college life for one Ukrainian student]

In addition, extracurricular involvement can strengthen your college application, as Anna found, and actually enhance your classroom education, which Cristiana discovered during her graduate studies.  

Finally, we couldn't have a discussion about extracurriculars without closing with one of our favorite videos, showing some of the extracurricular activities our bloggers have had the pleasure to be part of:

Do you have a word to contribute to our Glossary of Confusing Words? Share words that have confused you or that might confuse others about studying in the U.S. Leave your suggestions in the comments, or use the form below.