In high school, you were probably involved in a number of student organizations. It seems like college students find it more difficult to find groups they would like to join. You will need to be fairly selective about the organizations you join because you won’t have as much time to participate.
Most campuses have a variety of organizations for students. These generally fall into one of the following categories:
■ Special interests
Social/fraternal organizations include sororities and fraternities. These organizations are very prominent on most campuses. They can be expensive to join and, in some cases, can be distracting. They do offer a spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood that other organizations don’t have. See the Topic: Deciding Whether to Join a Fraternity/Sorority.
Every major tends to have a professional organization that is open to all students in the major. These are good to join. They may or may not be that active. So this could be just a token group.
Sports/recreational organizations are intramural groups and club sports. These are great outlets for students. While you may not be a scholarship athlete, you can continue your athletic interests with club sports. These group compete against groups from other campuses. In both intramural and club sports, the variety of sports offered can be amazing (e.g. rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, snowboarding, skeet shooting).
Most campuses have a variety of political or advocacy groups covering the spectrum of political beliefs and issues. Many of our nation’s political leaders got their start with these groups. No matter what your political views are, these groups can help develop some important communication skills.
Special interest groups can encompass almost every imaginable topic. Some are involved in community service. Some just relate to common interests (e.g. swing dancing, cave exploration, sky diving).
Every major has honoraries. Also these are campus wide honoraries. Generally you are selected for these in your junior year. How do you decide on what groups to join? Here’s some guidance.
- Join the professional organization for your major. Even if this group is not that active, you will probably receive a professional journal and be connected to other opportunities.
- Select an organization where you have genuine interest. Don’t join just for the resume value. An organization name on your resume won’t be that useful if you haven’t taken an active role in the organization.
- Be careful about joining a fraternity or sorority. These can take a lot of time, especially when you are pledging.
- If you are selected for an honorary, check it out to see if it is worthwhile. Generally if you are selected for an honorary as a freshman or sophomore, it’s not worth the investment. These groups are more of a money making activity than anything else.
- Limit your organizations to 3 – 5 and try to take on a leadership role in the organizations you do join.
There is no need to rush into organizations as a freshman. Give yourself time to become adjusted to college before you commit to an organization. When you do make a commitment, make it a serious one..