EducationSkills

Last week I shared a few tips on how to get involved on your campus, this week I’m here to talk to you guys about how to find the clubs that are right for you. While it is true that joining clubs allows you to get involved, clubs aren’t fun if you’re not really interested in the ones you’re a part of.

And though clubs can be fun, keep in mind that they are also commitments. Once you decide to join a club, you are responsible for attending all of the meetings (within reason), show up on time (again, within reason), follow club rules, participate in events thrown by your club etc.

You don’t have to worry about those responsibilities just yet. I just want you guys to keep them in mind when you’re at your school’s activities fair. Speaking of which, seeing all of the clubs and organizations with their respective stations at the activities fair can be a little overwhelming, especially if your campus has more than forty clubs to choose from. And even if your campus doesn’t have that many, it still doesn’t make deciding which clubs to join any easier.

You could always sign up for all of the clubs at once and then go to each club’s first meeting to see if you like it, but then you run the risk of missing meetings that might be going on at the same time.

This is not to say that going to every club meeting can’t be done, but it’s always good to have an idea of what kinds of clubs you want to be a part of just so you have a smaller, more manageable list to work with. If you’re not sure what kinds of clubs are available at your university, make sure you check out your school’s website. There should be a list of clubs available there. Don’t worry if you can’t find it. You can still make a list of things you either like doing or are interested in. Before you groan and say how much you don’t like making lists, let me just say that it doesn’t have to be a very long one. It doesn’t even have to include sentences if you don’t want it to. Also, if you were part of clubs in high school that you really liked, add that to your list. Chances are there will be something similar offered on your campus.

Your list might not be as vague as this one, but here’s an example of a club list you can create:

  • Writing
  • Books
  • Mock trial
  • Doodling
  • Singing
  • Leadership
  • Learning about other cultures

I know this list isn’t long, but as I said before, it doesn’t have to be. I don’t want to write a book about things I’m interested in because from these seven bullet points I can think of a reasonable sized list of clubs to join off the top of my head. But let’s pretend that I can’t think of any clubs to join and that I have no idea what kind of clubs/organizations my campus offers.

In that case, I can do one of two things:

1. I can use my list as a guide when looking through the clubs and organizations listed on my college’s website. It will help me narrow down any list, regardless of the size, especially if there’s a search engine on the site i.e. Penn State’s Student Organization Directory (in case you’re wondering what a site like the one I described might look like).

OR

2. If I can’t find a club/organization directory or website of any kind, I can wait until school starts and go to the activities fair. Each club will have their own table on it with a sign so it’ll be like using a search engine, only in real life. Look for the signs with words that are similar to the ones your list.

Let’s pretend that I did both of those things on two separate occasions.

If I were to choose the first option, I would type in the words from my list into the search engine (assuming that your school’s club website has one. If not, your search might take a little bit longer) and look through the descriptions of every club/organization that pops up. After that, I’ll jot down the ones that appeal to me so that I have another list; one filled with clubs I want to check out during the activities fair.

I used Penn State’s Student Organization Directory to make another list to show you:

  • Writing: InState Magazine, Kalliope, WORDS
  • Books: African Library Project, Book Club
  • Mock trial: Debate Team, Mock Trial Association
  • Doodling: Art Club
  • Singing: The Coda Conduct, University Choir, Women’s Chorale
  • Leadership: Atlas, Blue & White Society, Bridges to Prosperity, Circle K
  • Learning about other cultures: AHANA

See how I turned a list of seven into a list of sixteen? I could’ve made it a bit longer because there were still more clubs in each category but, to follow my own advice, I only picked the ones that really appealed to me.

As for the second option, I can’t check out all of the clubs at once, but as I do with a search engine, I can utilize keywords. There will be signs and posters at the activities fair, so find the ones that relate to your interest list. I like writing so chances are, signs that say campus literary magazine or newspaper will appeal to me just as much as the student government association, international club, and the debate team would.

Clubs are a great way to get familiar with your campus, get involved, make new friends, and once you become a full-fledged college student – de-stress. So choosing the right ones for you is important. Like I mentioned before, being a part of clubs take a lot of commitment, which is why you want to be sure you join ones that fit your interest. Again, I know it might be overwhelming, but if I can take a list of 1,024 clubs (that’s how many are offered at Penn State) and narrow it down to sixteen in less than an hour, so can you! And don’t worry if your university doesn’t have a website for the clubs. I personally used the second option my freshman year, and it worked out for me.

Now what are you waiting for? Go make YOUR list.

Image: Colgate.edu

EducationSkills

Summer has just started and most of you are probably too busy soaking up the sun to think about your first semester of college. But everyone else? Well, if you’re anything like I was the summer before my freshman year, then every other thought that you have is about college.

Is that a good thing? Yes!

It’s good that you’re thinking about college because, before you know it, you’ll be moving in to your dorm room and your life as a college freshman will begin. But don’t be afraid! While college can seem intimidating, it’s not as scary as you think it is. Once you get settled into your room, explore your campus, and get the hang of where all of your classes are, your university won’t feel like home just yet but it’ll be a lot more familiar.

If you want your campus to start to feel like your home away from home, then getting involved is the best way to go about making that happen. You’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to get involved if you’re the new kid on campus. Well, for starters, don’t think that just because you’re new means you can’t get involved. All of the clubs and organizations at your college will be happy to have you because that’s part of what makes college college. Outside of academics, universities thrive on student-run organizations and activities. So, to make the best of your college experience, put yourself out there and become a part of your collegiate community.

Not sure how to do that? That’s okay!

Here are a few tips on how to get involved on your campus:

Join Clubs

Most colleges dedicate a day or even a whole week to showcasing the different kinds of clubs and organizations on campus. Whether your campus has more than forty clubs or less than twenty, make sure you visit as many club/organization tables during your school’s activities fair as you can. Learn about each club and organization by talking to the people at each station, and if you like what they’re about, sign up! Clubs are a great way to submerge yourself into the community and to make new friends.

Look at the Event Calendar

As I said before, universities thrive on student-run organizations and activities. If there are any events or activities happening, chances are students were behind making them happen. Usually there are event calendars posted around campus and maybe even on the school website. Wherever it may be for you, make a note of when things are happening. Is a local band performing in the student community center? Is there a comedian coming to campus? A lot of college events are fun and more importantly free! Don’t miss out on your chance to attend some of them, or better yet, volunteer to work the event. This brings me to my next tip.

Volunteer

If you volunteered at a nursing home every week or helped clean up your neighborhood while you were in high school, that’s great! If you didn’t do a whole lot of volunteering, don’t fret. You still have a chance to get involved with different volunteering organizations. Penn State has an organization that helps raise money for kids with pediatric cancer called THON. Your campus might have a similar organization so ask around to find out. If you’re not into fundraising, see if your campus is affiliated with Habitat For Humanity or any other non-profit organization. If they are, this is your opportunity to get involved with some of them. Just like clubs, volunteering is a great way to network and to become a part of your campus.

Talk to People

Freshmen Orientation is the perfect time to make connections. Your orientation leaders are there to help you, and the great thing about that is – they’re sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They’ve been where you are and know the ins and outs of college and how to get involved. Ask them questions about their college experience and how they went about making the campus their home away from home.

These are just a few tips to get you started on getting involved on your college campus. Trust me, once you find your place at your university, navigating the collegiate world will get easier and, before you know it, you’ll no longer feel like the new kid.

Photo courtesy of Eric E Johnson