You may be on your way to finding your niche at college with Caroline’s article from Tuesday, but our whole blog team had some additional items to share about how we got involved (or not) on our campuses.
I attended a state school where the majority of the students commuted. It was challenging to find clubs or groups to further my involvement on campus during my first year. However, after a couple of semesters, I really got excited about the clubs on campus. I joined the College Democrats, the Women’s Club, and also participated in several campaigns on campus. I had several friends in the Muslim Student Association and the College Green party. Many times our clubs would collaborate. One semester, I was even part of a group that organized a campus walk-out to protest student fee hikes. Both faculty and students were involved and we had a pretty great showing on the quad. I helped students register to vote and also volunteered on campaigns. I really found a lot of value in getting involved on campus beyond the classroom. That motivation continues today. I serve on the board of directors of three non-profit organizations and volunteer for causes that are important to me or my friends. My advice to a young reader is to say yes to every volunteer opportunity that comes your way. You never know what opportunities it might bring.
For the first year of school I was not that involved at all. Living on campus my freshman year I felt very attached to the school and meeting people was easy in the dorms. When I moved off campus my sophomore year, this was not as easy because you only come on campus to attend class, then you leave. To get re-attached I looked for organizations that interested me from a personal aspect like The Ski Club and went to a few open house meetings. From there I concentrated on organizations that related to my major/focus for networking opportunities. I would say you should try several different organizations and then narrow it down to a few that are a good fit. To get the most out of the experience you will want to devote some real time getting to know the people and developing relationships. Spreading yourself thin over too many organizations may increase the opportunity for more experiences but it makes it hard to develop the relationships.
My involvement in college was a way for me to experience new things for sure. I dabbled in a little fun, culture and serious business by joining a martial arts, film and Human Resources clubs to just name a few. I was not an expert in any of these areas, but I definitely walked away learning some new things. Which is what college is about, right?
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t do nearly enough to get involved on campus. While I had a wonderful college experience and came away with some lifelong friends, I definitely regret not branching out more while I was there. Who knows what other friends I might have made or experiences I may have gained if I had tapped into more of what my university had to offer? If I had to do it all over again, I would have tried to get involved by working for a campus office or organization that more closely related to my field and my interests. I likely would have met more friends and mentors and gained more relevant experience.
I went to a university with a huge undergrad population so joining on-campus organizations was one of the best ways to make the school feel “smaller” and meet like-minded people. I pledged a co-ed community service fraternity my freshman year, and an Asian American interest sorority my junior year. I loved the experiences I had in both organizations, and the people I met there still make up my social circle today, 13 years later. I also tutored underprivileged children at nearby schools through another on-campus program, which was an eye-opening and thoroughly fulfilling experience that I still look back on fondly.