From the minute you decide to apply through your last semester, your entire undergraduate career is marked by decision making. For most, these choices deal primarily with academic issues, such as declaring a major, figuring out how to satisfy that science requirement (even though you’re an art student), or creating the best schedule for next semester. You’re in school to learn and to obtain the skills you need to transition successfully into the working, adult world.
But as any college graduate will tell you, what you learn in the classroom is only part of your college education, and it’s the combination of all of your different experiences — academic and social — that furthers your growth. One way to enhance your education is by participating in on-campus activities, and here are five reasons why you should:
1. You’ll meet new people.
College can be so big that it’s isolating; on the other hand, it can be so small that it’s isolating. While size definitely plays a part in the social atmosphere of a school, it’s really the new surroundings populated with so many different people milling about (people you may see in the cafeteria or on the quad once and never again) that can make it hard to make friends. Joining an on-campus group lets you meet people on a smaller, more intimate scale, making it easier to strike up that initial conversation, especially since you and the other group members already have at least one thing in common: the group!
2. You’ll network.
You may think that your fellow college students can’t really help your career since they’re students, but that’s not true. An older student can help you land an internship at a company where he/she already interned, and after graduating, these formers students can help you get an interview with their employers. Additionally, if a group you join is a chapter of a professional organization, you can network with other students and working professionals at the organization’s regional and national conferences. Lastly, many groups invite speakers to the school, and as a member of the group, you have more access to these esteemed guests for initiating a conversation and, possibly, beginning a mentor-mentee relationship.
3. You’ll learn new skills.
Many on-campus groups allow students to take the knowledge they’ve obtained in the classroom and apply them in practical situations, furthering their understanding of the subject matter. Whether you’re preparing for a presentation at a conference or working on a case study for the next weekly meeting, you’re refining the skill set necessary for your desired career. On-campus groups also provide opportunities for cultivating event planning, leadership, organization and project management skills, which are highly desirable in any industry.
4. You’ll learn new ideas.
As previously stated, everyone in the group is there because of a common interest in the subject matter. Levels of expertise may vary amongst members, but that shared passion guarantees that you’ll read, watch and hear different things from your peers and will have sometimes enlightening, sometimes challenging discussions. By conversing with group members, you’ll learn their perspectives on different issues, which, as a result, will help inform yours. Invited speakers will also enhance your understanding of the field as they provide firsthand insight into the industry.
5. You’ll build your resume.
You can list your accomplishments and responsibilities within the group, and show a level of responsibility and initiative that may not be as easy to obtain at a part-time job or internship. Furthermore, if your part-time jobs are mostly in retail or administrative work, being a member of an on-campus group can help your resume stand out by showing a demonstrated interest in your desired field — one that’s more substantial and convincing than simply having a relevant major.
Logan Harper is the community manager for MPA@UNC, a top MPA program offered through University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a contributor to Online MPA Degrees . In addition to higher education, he is also passionate about travel, cooking, and international politics.
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