So this is it. The big step you’ve been planning for years has finally come.
You’re off to college.
There are so many things to think (and stress) about; will I like my new roommate(s)? Will I get the classes I want? Will I make new friends? Should I join any campus clubs?
I can’t answer all of those questions, but I can tell you from personal experience that when it comes to joining clubs, go for it! I can guarantee it’ll enrich your overall college experience – helping you make new friends, giving you something to look forward to on a regular basis, offering an outlet for your passion and surprisingly enough, it can oftentimes lead to you doing even better at your academics.
Why am I so adamant about the positives of joining clubs? I guess to understand that, I have to tell my personal story.
When I graduated high school many moons ago, I went straight to the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). While it’s a fantastic school with a reputation for excellent academics, I was at a tumultuous time of my life and was not prepared for the strains of college. I made some great friends my first year in the dorms and had fun, but I was always hesitant to really participate in extracurricular activities. After a couple of very rough years, I decided to take some time off (AKA drop out) and take some time to “find myself” (AKA work in Corporate America and party a lot).
Fast forward a few years to my decision to go back to school at Columbia University. This time around, I knew I wanted to make the most of my undergraduate experience. I was going to have as much fun as I could and to partake in as many activities as I could, because, hey, once you leave college, those chances of being involved in clubs and activities that you truly love are few and far between.
In my time at Columbia I served on the Spring Formal committee, was in a theatre group, was appointed to numerous committees by my dean and our student body president, was an elections commissioner, an orientation leader, and I served as the Social Chair of my program for one year. Needless to say, I was insanely busy and at times a bit overwhelmed, but when all was said and done, the experience was phenomenal and so different from my first college experience.
I made incredible friends, got great relationships with faculty members, accumulated countless memories and gained interpersonal and networking skills that are proving to be helpful in the “grown-up world”. And despite my chaotic schedule and my occasional meltdown, in the year that I was social chair and serving on so many committees, I had the best GPA of my entire time at Columbia. It was as if the added pressure and lack of free time made me better at time management and didn’t allow for my usual routine of procrastinating until the night before an exam or paper was due. It was uplifting, fulfilling and I believe with everything in me that it made my experience better than I could have ever imagined.
As you’re beginning this journey, think about things you’re passionate about and what you would like to participate in. Into bike riding, kayaking, stopping world hunger, underwater basket weaving? There is a club for you. In fact, the fun of college clubs is that you can basically find one for everything, and if for some reason you can’t, you always have the option to create your own. Just do it. You will make great friends, find your place on campus and really enhance the limited time you have there.
I can promise you won’t regret it.