Jacqueline Atkins graduated from the University of Rhode Island in May of 2013 with Bachelors degrees in Public Relations and Communication Studies and a minor in Leadership Studies. While in school she was part of Sigma Kappa, the Student Senate, the American Sign Language Club and a freshmen mentoring club called WOWW (We’re Offering Women Wisdom). She also participated in several leadership development programs, including being a challenge course facilitator. She took a semester to study abroad in the Gold Coast of Australia and believes it was the best decision she has made. She has spent the past year working as an even planner and is now re-enrolled in school, attending Stony Brook University where she is working on her Masters in Higher Education Administration, with hopes that she can one day found her own Leadership Development Program at a university to help students have the same wonderful experiences she had in college.
Believe it or not college isn’t just about the academics. It is the place where you learn about who you are going to be when you ‘grow up’. While academics are important and should be the primary focus of your time at school they shouldn’t be your whole college experience. College is the first chance you have to get out of the world you grew up in and expand your horizons. With that opportunity comes a chance to find out who you are, what interests you, how to pursue your passions and a chance to make their your own decisions. Not all of this will happen in a classroom. In fact, more often than not it will be the other activities that you get involved in that shape the person you are when you graduate.
Once you get to college you will realize quickly that you have more free time now than you ever did in high school. Classes go from meeting every day for eight hours to only meeting a couple times a week. Make the most of this free time, it will go quicker than you would ever expect. Sure you could become an expert on napping, or a professional Netflix watcher, but you can also do so much more. No matter the size of your school there is something for everyone to get involved with. Go to your schools student org fairs, Greek life meet and greets, community service info sessions, and athletic tryouts. See what’s out there.
Be that overly involved freshmen that signed up for every club that sounded interesting. Why? Because in the end not all of these activities will wind up being for you, but by going to a few meetings you can figure out which organizations are the best fit for you.
Netflix and your comfy bed might seem more appealing than talking to strangers and testing out group after group until you find a good fit, but there are plenty of reasons why being involved with your school with benefit you.
1. You can put it on your resume – having a 4.0 is great but employers want to see that you did more than just sit in your room and study all day. Being involved shows that you care about more things than just getting good grades.
2. Grow your leadership skills- serve on a groups executive board and practice leading others
*Bonus tip: In college you don’t have to be a senior to hold an executive board position. Interested in making a difference in your group? Talk to current members about how elections work and you may find yourself in a position of power very quickly!
3. Meet new people – Maybe your roommate doesn’t become the quick best friend you always wanted, well getting involved is a great way to meet more people. And hey, if your roommate is your best friend more friends are still always nice. Right?
4. Learn time management skills – being involved teaches you how to prioritize what is most important and teaches you to plan ahead for when you know things are going to get busy. This is a skill everyone needs in the real world, but if you just spend four years going to class and coming home and doing homework you may find yourself struggling to balance work and life in the future.
5. It’s fun! What’s better than making memories while developing new interests and hobbies and hanging out with a bunch of awesome people that love the same things you do? And at the end of the day these will become the people who sit on the couch and have a rainy day Netflix marathon with you.