There is so much more to college than the classes you take. For many freshmen, it can feel daunting to start a whole new chapter in a new place, living a completely different schedule, and meeting new people all the time. It is important not to let the initial stress of change impact your ability to make use of the opportunities presented by college. There are not very many times in life that you have so many options to get involved and make a difference. Read on for key reasons to get involved and easy ways to do it.
1. College is defined by the people you meet.
In an article by the New York Times titled *What Makes a Positive College Experience,* Dr Daniel Chambliss, sociologist at Hamilton College, asserts that the most important element in shaping the college experience is the people you meet, not the things you do. To some extent, there is luck involved. Maybe you will get a random roommate that just clicks, or find people in your classes or dormitory with common interests, but a great way to ensure some similar minded friends is by joining a club. If you love soccer, joining an intramural team puts you in a great position to expand your network. If you have a more niche interest, do some research. The average college has clubs for just about everything. Some outstanding cases, like the University of Texas in Austin, even has over 1600 different clubs, ranging from a cryptocurrency group to hacky sack enthusiasts. In the case that your school does not have the club for you, start it! In most cases, as long as you can get a faculty member on board, starting a club is pretty easy, and certainly rewarding.
2. It is not all about clubs.
For many students, college is purely practical. After all, getting your degree is a common stepping stone on the way to your career of choice. Luckily, there are still many ways to get involved and make the most of your time. Many schools have on campus job opportunities, and offer a simple way to keep a stream of income throughout the years. This convenient choice is an ideal way to get some real work experience without having to commute or balance academic commitments. There are roles for office assistants, clerks, research assistants, food service workers, and more. You can even tailor your role to your interests. If you like to work out, apply to the campus gym, and get paid to spend time there. If you are more of a bookworm, most college libraries hire students to man the desk and organize books. Often, in jobs like these, you will have coworkers with similar interests and ambitions as you, and it can end up being very rewarding. In great situations, the connections you make at a collegial job can even get you connected to future employers. My sister connected with her boss at her college library, and ended up getting a referral to her first job post-graduation. No matter what you do, work experience and involvement will pay off in experience and value.
3. Lead your experience with leadership experience.
When you start applying for jobs, recruiters will want to see experience. Whether or not you have tangible work experience, it is expected that by the time you graduate undergrad, you have something to show for your time in the eligible workforce. If you want to beef up your resume, clubs are a great way to demonstrate your multi-faceted personality, and even get a leadership role. It is not uncommon for people to get noticed not by their previous jobs, but by interesting extracurriculars, which indicate good skills and even potential commonalities with the mission of a company. The key here is that your involvements do not have to be relevant to your future career. In fact, if they are not, that shows a dimensional candidate, which may even be more desirable as a hire. Consider volunteering with a cause you are passionate about, or committing a few hours a week to improving your community. In the long run, any involvement shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to pursue your interests, which is exactly what people want to see.
College is an exciting time to explore new interests and discover what you are truly passionate about. It is also a great time to gain valuable skills and knowledge that can help you throughout your whole life. Getting involved in college activities can help you make friends, learn new skills, and gain experience that will stick with you. With the right strategies, you can easily get involved at your school, and maximize your time and resources.