While it’s critical to evaluate the academic programs available at the colleges you’re considering, it’s equally important to check out the opportunities that exist outside of the classroom. Getting involved in college is a must in order to build on the knowledge learned in the pages of your textbooks, meet friends and get to know your new environment.
Join a student organization, play an intramural sport, rush a sorority or fraternity, become a research assistant with a professor, go on an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip, or volunteer within the local community. It doesn’t matter how you get involved; it only matters that you do. Need more convincing? Read our top 5 benefits of campus involvement below.
1. Become a part of your new community.
Getting involved outside the classroom can assist with the transition from high school to college, as you’ll quickly become more connected to the community and more familiar with the resources provided by the university. Being an active member of the college and local community also comes with a sense of pride and belonging that will help you feel more at home. For instance, through involvement with student government, you could have a hand in molding the future of the university while also becoming aware of the latest events, policies and news to hit campus.
2. Learn about yourself.
Discover new interests and passions through the hundreds of student organizations and groups available to explore on campus. College is the time to broaden your worldview and explore different interests, topics, hobbies, cultures and experiences. Take swing dancing for a spin or tantalize your tastebuds at an international food festival. It’s the activities you pursue and the experiences you have during these formative years that will shape and expand your perspective and understanding of the world for the rest of your life.
3. Build lifelong friendships.
Leaving your family and friends back home and starting a new chapter of life on campus can be a lonely and intimidating process, but forging connections with your peers assists in this transition. Joining clubs and organizations is a great way to meet students with similar interests, and often times these connections and relationships will last long beyond your time on campus and continue to be sources of friendship and support for decades to come. Whether it be at weekly IM softball games, a semester-long study abroad trip or nightly dinners with your residence hall, friendship can be found in the unlikeliest of people and places.
4. Develop professionally.
Participation in student groups can afford you the opportunity to refine skills in leadership, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, public speaking and much more. Such knowledge and experience will certainly translate into the working world. Plus, having a diverse representation of organizations on your resume and being able to speak to these experiences during an interview makes you a much more well-rounded and marketable candidate. Involvement on campus can also open the door for networking opportunities. For example, by getting involved with academically-oriented student groups and Greek organizations that have large national parent affiliates and loyal networks spread across the country, you may be able to connect with faculty, alumni and industry leaders in your field who want to see you succeed.
5. Make memories.
Focusing on academics and earning your degree is undeniably important, but you’ll want to look back at your college years and remember more than just long nights studying in your dorm room. From making friends to realizing new passions and honing skills that will set you apart in the workplace, we hope it’s clear that involvement on campus and in the community can make for a truly memorable college experience.
Visit the Office of Student Engagement to find out what registered student organizations, or RSOs, are available at Western Michigan University. Can’t find a group for you? Or want to share your unique passion with others? Start your own student organization. Most colleges and universities have a process for students to create their own organizations. Find your way to get involved and make it memorable.
Student involvement opportunities should play a part in your college decision. Download our college comparison worksheet to consider these factors and approach your college decision in a more strategic way: