As a freshman, it can be extremely overwhelming deciding how to get involved on campus. You especially don’t want to be that person that is into everything but offers up no true value to any organization. So, how do you get meaningfully involved on campus? Here are 5 tips on how to choose clubs and organizations in college as a freshman.
Begin with choosing activities that complement your interests and goals. From there you want to determine if you will want a future leadership role in each respective organization. Remove the organizations from your list that you have no interest in becoming more involved in. Research the remaining clubs and organizations. Next, attend the informational meetings for each respective extracurricular activity and get as many questions answered as possible. Lastly, make your decision on which ones you want to join. Be careful not to overcommit yourself.
1. Choose activities that compliment your interests and goals
You do not want to choose clubs and organizations in college that you have no interest in actually participating.
As a freshman business student, I wanted to join an organization that introduced to me other business students, business people in my community, and the national business community. So after much research, I joined The International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi. It’s a professional business fraternity and was the perfect fit for my interest and goals.
Your interests will be different based on your background and aspirations. The thing you want to remember though is that the organizations you choose to show interest in should reflect some aspect of who you are and who you want to become.
Remember choose clubs and organizations in college that interest you.
Think about what new information, skills, or connections am I looking to learn or gain from being a part of organizations. Create a list with the top five things you want to learn or gain and use them as the baseline for comparing the clubs and organizations as you look into them.
As I mentioned earlier, a personal example of that would be my choice to join a business fraternity based on my wanting to meet other business students at my university, business people in my local community, and gain connection to a national business community.
2. Determine if you will want a future leadership role
Do you want to serve as President, Vice-President, or some other leadership role one day? If so, then you should only join organizations that have a hierarchical nature.
Look up the organizations that you are interested in and see how their leadership operates. If you are the type of person that wants to commit to an organization for the next four years think about your leadership potential.
Outline what it would take to reach that goal. Does the outlined path appeal to you? If not, maybe that particular organization is not for you.
Do this future analysis for each organization and use your findings in conjunction with the learn or gain baseline you created in step 1. So for clarity, compare how well each organization meets the requirement of what you want to learn or gain. Then, compare your future leadership potential within each organization.
At the end of this comparison, you should have a ranked list of the organizations with number one being the organization or club that best meets your learning requirement and has high leadership potential.
3. Research the club or organization
Do your due diligence. Look up the organization on your university’s website and see what they have to offer you AND what you can offer them.
The list you created should have helped you decipher which organizations and clubs look like the best fit.
If you feel as though you have nothing to offer right now that is okay. However, think about how you might be able to add value to the organization in the future. It is often true that we find things to be more enjoyable when we can have a meaningful impact. So, as you research think about your potential impact.
When thinking about your potential impact, think beyond your leadership potential. Think more about how you can add value to the organization. Do you have a particular knack for something integral to the organization’s activities? Do you have connections that could help the organization grow?
As much as you want to learn and gain from these extracurricular activities, you must be able to give to them as well. Otherwise, you might end up feeling like the organization is a waste of your time since you don’t see yourself having an impact. Plus, not being able to add any value, makes it unlikely that you will gain a leadership position.
Also, talk to people currently in the club or organization. Do they speak well of it? Do you like the people you are speaking with? Take into account what they do and their interests. Do they align with yours? Consider all of this as you research and develop your profile for your interested organizations.
4. Attend their informational meetings
Almost all clubs or organizations have some type of informational meeting. These meetings usually give you the rundown of what the organization is, their particular involvement on campus, what their member expectations are, and how to go about joining. This is also the perfect time for you to get any questions you have answered.
Some great questions to ask are:
Are there dues and how much are they?
What is the weekly time commitment?
Are events mostly on-campus or off-campus?
How much local community engagement is there?
What am I expected to do as a member?
Asking these types of informational questions are simple ways to help you choose clubs and organizations in college.
5. Consider what you have learned and then make your decisions.
When deciding what organizations and clubs to join remember to ask yourself what value will you get from them and what value will you give to them.
If you’ve completed the above steps as suggested, you should have a pretty good idea of what organizations and clubs should be your first focus as extracurricular activities. All that is left to do now, is consider what you have learned about each organization and club and make your decisions based on that information.
How Many Clubs and Organizations Should I Join in College?
Personally, I would not join more than three organizations during your freshman year. Give yourself the ability to truly get involved. Joining a bunch of clubs and organizations all at one time is not the way to go about properly getting involved.
If you do get involved in too many organizations, you will find yourself stretched thin. Think about. You have classes, maybe work, and then you are adding on four or more clubs and organizations. That is a lot of time commitments and energy drainers.
Plus, this doesn’t include resting, completing schoolwork, and hanging out with friends.
And I’m guilty of it too. Freshmen year I joined a ton of organizations and had time for really only two of them. I returned to school sophomore year, removed myself from all but two organizations, and then spent my next three years really growing my skills and leadership within my remaining two extracurricular activities.
That is how it goes for a lot of us most of the time if we are lucky. If you are not lucky – meaning you want to continue stretching yourself thin – you might make a bad name for yourself.
Don’t Be The Person In Everything And Giving Nothing
For example, I know people who were in four or more organizations, but they held no leadership roles nor did anyone in each respective organization know of them. They were ghosts to people. They were known to come every once in a while.
Why? Well, because they were stretched too thin. You can only be at one place at a time. And it takes time to nurture connections and grow them. These people were not doing that. They couldn’t. They just could not come to enough events, sign up for enough volunteering opportunities, or get to know their fellow members.
Read More: Why You Start Networking More
There were too many people to get to know and too much to do on top of college itself. So, these people were never called on. They were expected to be no-shows and not dependable.
That is not a healthy reputation to build. So, do your best to avoid it.
What Are Good Clubs and Organizations to Join in College?
The best organization for you to join in college depends on your interests and degree. You want to join organizations that complement both.
If possible, you also want to join organizations that have a strong alumni system that you could lean into post-graduation. These types of organizations can be integral to helping you find a job, get set up in a new city, or even just advice on the new world of adulting.
Either way, you have plenty of options.
And if the club or organization you really want to be a part of isn’t offered on your campus, start it. You can take lead and create it from the ground up.
Putting It All Together
When it comes to getting involved on campus, be sure to find things that you will get value from and can give value to. Of course, be sure to not overcommit or overextend yourself. Best of luck!
What are your thoughts? Will you use these tips to help you choose clubs and organizations in college?
Best of luck adulting!
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