Erin McKelle is an activist, writer, and social media strategist. She has written for a variety of publications and worked for a variety of nonprofits, including Everyday Feminism, Adios Barbie, Stop Street Harassment, and The Huffington Post. Erin lives and Columbus Ohio, and enjoys reading, green tea, and reality TV.
If you’re in college, you’ve probably seen student groups selling baked goods to fundraise, proudly wearing their sports jersey or gear, or even seen a protest organized by student activists. Extracurricular involvement in college life is very important and I would argue one of the best ways to make friends and professional contacts alike. College is such a unique time in your life and like any opportunity, you should make the most of it! After all, you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on tuition, so why not get your money’s worth and take advantage of involvement happenings?
I myself have been involved in numerous student organizations, activist groups, and centers on campus and these experiences were some of the highlights of my college career. In fact, my involvements were where I learned the most, since I could apply what I was learning in class to real events. A lot of people think getting involved is challenging, time consuming, or a distraction from your studies, but it’s a lot easier than you’d think. I’m going to give you five surefire ways that you can get involved on your campus, without having to sacrifice time, money, or your GPA.
Work on Campus For a Cause: I had many part-time jobs during college and I think working while you’re in school is important, since you’ll not only be earning a paycheck but making valuable connections for your future career. Do some research and find out what your campus has to offer: whether it’s the school newspaper, the student activities office, the women’s center, the business center, your school is likely to have student workers in these extracurricular departments. I worked at my university’s LGBT center and had a lot of fun while also getting paid.
Find a Student Organization That You’re Passionate About: Weather it’s foreign films, yoga, or hiking, your university probably has a club of some sorts centered around that passion. Joining a student organization is a great way to meet people who have similar interests as you and especially if you’re a freshman or new student, is a great way to meet new friends. Search social media or your school’s website to find suitable student organizations and if one doesn’t exist, start one! It’s usually not a difficult process to spearhead a student organization (most likely you’ll have to just fill out some paper work and find people to fill the executive positions). When you’re doing this, also consider your schedule and the level of involvement you want: do you only want to meet once a week or do you want to join a club that has activities every few days? Don’t be afraid to go to meetings to see if the organization is a good fit!
3) Go To Special Events: I guarantee that you’re college probably hosts a lot of different events throughout the semester, from networking to job fairs to comedy shows, there’s usually a lot happening for free on campus if you take the time to look at the bulletin boards posted in the hallways of your dorm! This is a great way to get involved in activities if you like being social or don’t have a lot of spare time. Plus, a lot of these events are designed to connect people and are the fruits of student organizations labor, so show them some appreciation and attend!
4) Become an RA or Student Leader: If you’re majoring in Political Science or have a knack of leadership, consider doing something in college that will help you to gain credibility as a leader. This could range from being an officer in your student government to pursuing a leadership role in a student organization to becoming an RA. Many of these positions also come with a kickback on tuition, which can help if you’re relying on student loans to get you through school. If your university has an involvement center or leadership institute of any sort, stop by and get some information! These are some of the best resume builders you can have so take the opportunities seriously and always do your best.
5) Join an Intramural Sports League: If you are athletic but aren’t on one of your college’s sports teams, consider joining an intramural league! These sports leagues are more casual and don’t require nearly the same level of commitment as an official sports team, making them a great way to get on the field and make new friends. Check with your school’s recreation center or athletics department to get more information on the league’s your school offers.
However you choose to get involved on campus, the important thing is to get involved in some way!