You’ve made it to college. You’re moved in and finally know where all your classes are. You know where to find the best salty snacks on campus. You have a favorite nook in the library for studying and another one for napping. All systems are go as far as this college thing is concerned.
Ok stop! Yes, you are strongly committed to completing your course work and carving out a career path. But there’s another kind of growth that occurs in college that requires your efforts as well. Social and emotional growth.
Social and emotional skills are just as important as academic skills in the adult world. And extracurricular activities are an ideal way to acquire them. Here are some great reasons to take some time away from the books:
You’ll find your peeps. Joining a group of folks that have interests similar to yours could be a pathway to fun and relaxation, and who knows, friendships and more.
There will be access to some activities at college – famous speaker series, club sports, inexpensive tickets to cultural events – that may not be available once you leave campus.
You can try something new in a low risk, friendly environment. Is there a world you want to know more about? Here’s your chance.
You could learn about aspects of a future career that are not necessarily provided in a classroom setting.
You’ll find that doing things outside the classroom, including giving back to the community, are great resume builders.
You’ll keep busy. Busy people tend to be the most productive.
Now that you have the reasons, how do you find the activities? Here are some tips:
Stop at the tables – usually at the beginning of each semester there are events at which club members hang out at tables to answer questions about and recruit for their organizations. Take a minute or two to hear what they have to say. Not for you? Say thanks and move on.
Kiosks and bulletin boards are everywhere. Usually covered with event posters, tutoring ads, and yes, information about club meetings. Jot down the info and make an appointment with yourself to show up.
Ask upper classmen in your major if there are any professional clubs they suggest you join. You’re bound to bump into them when you’re attending your classes. This is an ideal conversation starter.
Check online resources provided by your school.
Go to goofy gatherings. Maybe your RA is having a hallway party. Maybe your roommate is going to a party and asks you along. Maybe there’s a school tradition being observed in the quad – like throwing a birthday boy or girl in the fountain. Check them out.
Consider fraternities and sororities which often provide a lifetime of connections and networks.
Join an informal intramural sports team where experience is not required. Make a fool of yourself and open the door to new relationships.
This is a just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting involved. Every school has its own brand of opportunities. And many schools provide freshmen with support and guidance in how to plug in socially. Take advantage of the help being offered and become engaged in your college community. It will be worth the effort!