In college, I basically minored in student life.
(That’s not entirely true, I minored in Humanistic Studies but that’s another story.)
Only focusing on the academic part of your college career is the biggest mistake I’ve seen some of my friends make. “I don’t have time,” is not a valid excuse. We all have homework, work one or two jobs, and some of us also manage to play sports, have an active social life as well as being involved on campus.
Participating in student life is not a waste of time. It’s a way of making your college experience richer. You meet so many people that you wouldn’t necessarily get to know if they’re majoring in a completely different field, for example. You meet people who have the same passions and hobbies you do, and you meet people that you’d think you have nothing in common with.
You learn so many things every day, just from hanging out with people from different backgrounds, and you don’t even realize it. Clubs don’t have to be a commitment, but to me, they are as mandatory as class attendance (and I go to a university where I only have three excused absences before my grade is affected). I joined a bunch of clubs in my first semester, and I applied to be on the board of two my second semester. Don’t ever let anyone tell you freshmen can’t get leadership positions. Especially if you’re a freshman and a woman. Especially if you’re a freshman, a woman, and someone at an American university whose first language isn’t English.
I got elected. Being a board member – I started out small, social media manager and events coordinator – brings a whole lot of responsibilities and deadlines that you need to be prepared for. It immensely helped me better manage my time and duties, it honed so many of my skills, and taught me that no matter what anyone who’s not a millennial will tell you, multitasking works.
I gained so much self-confidence that the next semester I marched into the student services office and started a brand new club. (The Fandom Club, because I’m a nerd like that.) Suddenly I was a president and founder and I had so much paperwork to deal with, but I don’t mind one bit. This is all in preparation for when I become CEO of a big company one day.
Being board members of a club, organization or society is not something you can do part-time. Or rather, you can, but what’s the point if your heart isn’t 100 percent into it? Clubs are about passions. It’s your way of giving something back to the community. I’m happy to do what I do because, apart from personal gratification, I know that I’m giving people the opportunity to meet people like them. To start a conversation, to share ideas, thoughts, opinions.
Organizing events isn’t easy, especially if you have to coordinate with different offices, other societies, and fit everything into your already busy schedule. I spend 90 percent of my day on campus, I practically live there and I really only go home to sleep. But I love hanging out at the university. There’s always an event that I want to go to, a society’s meeting I can’t miss, or my own club’s meeting and I wouldn’t change anything. I know so many people through my clubs, and not just superficially. I’m an extremely extroverted person who genuinely likes to talk to people, listen to their stories, give advice; I know so much about all the people I met here. I always know who to go to for every little thing, and it’s awesome.
Leadership also looks good on your resume. If you don’t have much work experience, you can always mention you were a board member of a club at uni and mention the skills you’ve gained. Now, I know leadership isn’t for everyone, but even just showing up and saying your name at a club’s meeting will improve your college career. If you don’t participate in student life because you’re shy, push yourself. Get out of your comfort zone a bit and only good things will come out. Being active in campus life is what made my college experience truly unforgettable.
As someone who is graduating in only six semesters, working two jobs and having a rather healthy social life (albeit an unhealthy sleeping schedule, but that’s on me), let me tell you, participating in student life is not only doable, but a must. You’ll only live half of your college experience if you refuse to be active.