Getting involved in campus life can greatly enrich your college experience, giving you valuable skills and new friends. There are a few things you can do to be on your way to a lifetime of memories.
- Visit activity fairs. At the beginning of each school year and sometimes at the beginning of each semester, most schools host an open house for student organizations. Every group is given a table where they can "sell" their club to potential members. The fair is usually an event in its own right, with music, food, raffles and more. Bring a few friends and browse the possibilities. Sign up for mailing lists to be alerted of upcoming events and meetings. You're bound to come away from the event inspired to do more on your campus.
Determine your interests. If you were involved in extracurricular activities in high school, you may have had one or two dozen choices, from student council to varsity sports. If you attend a large university, you will find literally hundreds of choices, with a group devoted to any interest, ethnic background and major, not to mention the Greek system. Even small community colleges have more choices than your average high school with religious student organizations, club sports and preprofessional groups.
With all these choices, you may want to take some time to decide what kind of experience you're looking for. While it would be great to do it all, you need time to study, too, so you should pick one or two activities you feel passionately about, will best build your resume, or even just sound like the most fun. You might want to attend the first meeting of several organizations or go by the recommendations of friends or classmates in determining which groups fit the bill.
Start your own student organization. Now even with all these choices, you still may not find an organization that's quite to your liking. If you're intrigued by songwriting, academic competitions, computer programming or African dance, you can find like-minded students and create your own organization devoted to pursuing your interests. Your college's student affairs or student activities office will have all the paperwork and advice you need to get started. You can get even more assistance in starting a new club if you team up with a national group. For instance, if you were in the Kiwanis-sponsored Key Club in high school, Circle K can continue the community service experience at the college level. Or maybe you want to start a student branch of a professional organization like the Public Relations Society of America. Contact the national office of any group for more information and helpful resources.
Look for flyers and read the newspaper. While many people think of clubs and organizations when they think of becoming part of campus life, you can still get more involved at your school without setting foot in a single meeting. Does your college's language department show subtitled films? Is a popular band performing in the school auditorium? You'll never know if you don't keep your eyes and ears open to special events on your campus. The next time you have a few minutes before class, peruse the bulletin boards in the hallway for announcements on educational lectures, charity runs, volunteer opportunities and much more. The student newspaper is another good source for learning about upcoming happenings. Bigger events like theater productions usually merit their own article, but even the smallest events will be listed in calendars and weekend round-ups.
Consider community service. Volunteering is a great way to become more involved in your campus and the surrounding community. There's a volunteer activity for any taste. Are you an environmentalist? Then take part in a campus clean-up. Education major? Elementary students would love to practice their reading with you and high school students would appreciate some extra homework help. Call an organization you'd be interested in working with, such as the Red Cross, and ask how you can help. Don't want to go it alone? Take the initiative and organize a volunteer event for your dorm, class or even a large group of friends.
In addition to the good feeling you'll get from helping others, there are tangible benefits to volunteering. Volunteer experience looks great on your resume, and carefully chosen projects can provide hands-on career experience. It's also never too early to start networking. The student serving corn next to you at the soup kitchen may become the next Human Resources Director at your preferred place of employment.
Step outside your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to try something new if it interests you. Even if you've never played ultimate Frisbee or sung in a choir, when will you ever have another chance to test out such diverse activities? Take advantage of these opportunities for a memorable college experience.