College Extracurricular Activities (page 3)
As you've probably discovered by now, there are more organizations, clubs, and activities on campus than you can possibly experience. At many schools, there is an on-campus organization, or at least a presence, for every conceivable activity, hobby, and interest.
So how in the world do you decide which of these organizations to join? And how do you determine how much time you'll have available to devote to such activity?
If you haven't done so already, stop by the dean's office and ask the receptionist there for a list of all the clubs, organizations, and activities that have "registered" on campus. The dean's office or, in some cases, some other campus office maintains this list in order to know what offerings are present on campus, but also because most if not all of these organizations typically look to the school for some type of funding every year. Take a look at this list and see what jumps out at you.
Some advice is warranted, though, as you look over this list.
Branch Out And Take Some Chances
Do not simply gravitate to the things you did in high school or to the hobbies and activities that you are "good at" or "have always done," without taking some time to reflect on what you're doing. College is your chance to reinvent yourself, to explore new things, and to learn about what motivates you. If you never leave your comfort zone, you'll never get a real sense of who you are. However, if you still love a particular activity that you engaged in during high school, you will probably be able to find and to easily step into the same activity in college. Our point here is simply to encourage you to take stock and make active decisions about what to pursue. There is a whole world of possibility awaiting you out there on campus.
"I love singing and always have and I did show choir in high school, so my auditioning for the TSU Showstoppers was an easy decision," Erika noted. "This was an elite group, and out of fifty or more people who auditioned, I was the only one chosen. That definitely boosted my confidence! We performed all over Tennessee."
"The single decision that I made as a freshman that constantly paid dividends for me was joining Speak of the Devil, Duke's male a cappella singing group," Chase noted. "Throughout my four years at Duke, my membership in Speak of the Devil was not only the hub of my friendships, but was also the way I defined myself. I took pride in my academic work, but I derived more satisfaction from singing with Speak of the Devil. I was able to record two CDs, sing at Duke basketball games, perform for thousands of my peers, and be surrounded by eleven guys who all shared those experiences. Last, being in a group like Speak of the Devil gave me a way to leave a positive mark at Duke. Thousands go to college and end up leaving the place four years later much the same place that they found it. Speak of the Devil, though, will exist long into the future and will always be shaped by the four years during which I was a member. Joining Speak of the Devil was something I knew I wanted to do when I arrived at Duke and it may have been the smartest thing I did in the four years I was there."
"I played several intramural sports and I was also very active in my residential college life," Tom added. "My participation in many of these activities was spurred on by the fact that my friends were doing them, but that was a deliberate choice of mine, and that's okay. The big thing to keep in mind is that all extracurricular activities contribute further to the social fabric that you're creating and that will impact your life forever. Always remember that building lifelong friendships is one of the most important consequences of college."
Strive To Find A Balance
As we've noted a couple of times already, you are looking for balance in your undergraduate life. That means finding a couple of extracurricular activities that give breadth and meaning to your life in college - and allow you to grow, enjoy a variety of experiences, and explore areas outside your academic bull's-eye, to the extent that you even have one yet. When considering your choices, think about the different areas that extracurricular activities can occupy. For example, joining the cycling club will keep you exercising, joining a campus theater troupe and getting a part in the semester production will allow you a creative outlet and an opportunity to pursue a hobby, and tutoring inner-city kids or volunteering at the soup kitchen or local homeless shelter will keep you grounded and remind you of those less fortunate. A life including all three of these activities, your course work, time with your friends and roommates, and time to attend campus lectures, performances, and concerts would make for a full, satisfying, and balanced freshman year. And of course, the iterations and variations on this theme are limited only by your imagination.
Take Your Time In Making Decisions
Question yourself before you commit to participating in a college activity because even though you're in college and living away from home, you won't have limitless time. Your coursework in college will be harder than what you experienced in high school. Your nightly reading will be more onerous and more voluminous; your responsibilities for papers, problem sets, and exams more numerous; and the threshold for getting a "good grade" will be more competitive. As a general principle, we recommend getting involved with no more than two or three extracurricular activities during your freshman year. You want to become known as a contributor, not a joiner. In other words, you should be prepared to attend the meetings and actively participate in any organization you join. If you commit to giving swim lessons to inner-city kids on Saturday mornings, you need to make good on that commitment and show up. If you sign up for your campus's branch of Amnesty International, Young Republicans, or Habitat for Humanity, you need to make the meetings and be prepared to road-trip with the group on the various activities it undertakes.
Of course, you need to allow yourself some time to explore these various organizations before you make a commitment to them, and that's fine. Go to as many meetings of as many different organizations as you want during your freshman fall as you explore what you're interested in doing. Take a run with your campus running club. Go to some meetings of the thespian society, the bridge club, or the photography group. Try out for a singing group, a comedy troupe, or a part in a campus play or musical. Go to a couple of intramural soccer practices to see how high the skill level is and whether you are comfortable with the level of competition. Take your sweet time in deciding which activities you want to keep in your life. You can even wait until you are an upperclassman to get involved in something on campus.
But when you commit to something, commit.
"I joined project W.I.L.D. when I returned from France in my junior year of college," Jim noted. "The outdoors became a passion that has deeply influenced me ever since. I spent six months walking the Appalachian Trail, and routinely head to the mountains in my free time. I was also fortunate to meet my wife through this pursuit."
"I did very little extracurricularly," Amanda added. "Outside of academics, I preferred more individual pursuits rather than organized clubs. The one type of group I probably should have gotten involved with would have been an outdoor adventures type thing because it was so beautiful around Cornell and I should have explored it more. I did do some of that type of thing at Davis when I first arrived there. I learned to rock-climb, which is something I continue to enjoy."
You can attend all the meetings you want as you explore what you want to do. Doing so will help you get to know all kinds of different people with interests similar to yours. It can be a great way to make new friends, meet new people, and even spark a romantic interest. You may form some of your best and most enduring friendships with the people you meet in the extracurricular organizations to which you belong. Eventually, though, you will likely be asked to "sign up" for the organization, to take on some responsibilities, or to become a reliable member of the "team."
At that point, it's time to fish or cut bait. The one thing you absolutely, positively do not want to become known for on campus is joining campus groups for the resume value, but not fulfilling your commitments to the group.
If at any point you find yourself overwhelmed, or if you discover that you've taken on more responsibility than you can carry in light of your course load or whatever else, resign or assume inactive status with any organization for which you will not be able to follow through on your commitments.
Joiners occupy the same place in the campus hierarchy as moochers"which is to say, the very bottom rung of the ladder. It's not a place you want to be, because once you earn that reputation, it can be nearly impossible to shake.
If You Can't Find The Activity You Want
If you find yourself on a campus that doesn't have a club, organization, or activity that you want to become involved with, start it up yourself! Talk to your dean of students and learn about your college or university's policy or process for founding a campus organization. Typically you simply need to submit a few signatures of interested students and some paperwork, and voilá"you have founded the organization.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Problems With Standardized Testing