Cultural capital and student engagement in extracurricular activities at a Malaysian University
How students perceive education influences their extracurricular engagement at university. In this study, I investigate how Malaysian students perceive the importance of a university education and how this influences their choices about extracurricular voluntary activities. Participants included 21 university students (aged 17-25 years old) studying at a university in East Malaysia. Data collection methods included questionnaires, visual data, semi-structured individual and focus group interviews. The findings reveal that while cultural capital plays a significant role in influencing student perceptions of educational success, other forms of capital are also highly valued in the education system. Academic excellence is emphasized, with families often investing in private tuition and other skills to achieve distinction thus giving students a perceived edge over their competitors. The results also show that social capital has a significant influence on students’ involvement in extracurricular activities while at university. The social capital embedded in friendships functioned as an investment strategy and participants relied on this capital to sustain their interest in community service projects or club activities. They also relied heavily on social capital resources embedded in kinship and religious institutions to obtain information and make decisions regarding future career plans and goals.