My name is Vincenzo Sposito, graduated in May of 2014 from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Business Administration majoring in information systems and minoring in management. I was also a part of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, member of the Unified Student Government Association, held multiple positions in my Fraternity and with the Interfraternity Council, and was the president of a completely student run business Felice’s Roman Style Pizza.
When you ask someone after they graduate, what was their favorite memory in college? Or what was the most important thing they learned? Very rarely do they begin to profess their love of their Accounting 101 class and how balance sheets changed their lives or of a chemistry lab and how hours of titrating shaped them into the person they are today. While your course work is important, it only makes up a portion of the “college experience”. To really get into the whole of the experience and utilize all of the resources at your school, you have to get involved outside of the classroom.
I feel that people who give advice or talk about their experiences are mostly those who wish they had been given that advice themselves. My first semester of college I did not get involved in any organizations, I simply went to class, came back to my room, ate, studied and went to sleep (more often than not I used to substitute studying with more sleeping or eating… or both). I was wasting away what I would later refer to as the best years of my life. That is until a good friend of mine suggested that I come out to a meeting for his Fraternity. That meeting was it, that was my “ah ha” moment. When I met those guys and saw the great work they had been doing, I knew that there was more to be done with my life and my college career. Just like that I was hooked, I took on more leadership roles, I branched out to councils, I helped philanthropy groups, I even got involved with helping start and run businesses near my campus. There will never be another time in your life where there will be hundreds of organizations and opportunities that you can get involved with as easily as walking into a meeting. I personally believe that not joining an organization or getting involved with a group in college is the greatest disservice you can do to yourself.
But let’s take a step back for a moment and look at the big picture. Ultimately you are going to college to get into a medical school, or law school, graduate school or get some sort of job after you graduate. In this day and age, none of those entities want to see someone who just went to class anymore. The truth of the matter is even with outstanding grades you will be just another application on the pile. So what is going to set you over the top? What is going to get you in that manila folder on the recruiter’s desk that says “Get them in our doors at whatever the cost.” Experience. Experience is something you can’t fake your way through, it is not something that can be crammed for the night before and then forgotten the second you walk out of the exam room. Experience needs to be felt, it needs to be lived, and it is that vital factor that is going to make you that much better than your peers. College organizations expose you to everything from simple interpersonal communication skills in your weekly or monthly meetings, to the critical decision making skills that it will take to be a great leader. Course work and theories you learn in the classroom are magnificent tools, but if you don’t know how to use them, what good are they to you? A saw is much more effective at cutting wood than it is at warming up a pizza but how would you know if you never had to use a saw?
But I think one of the best aspects of these organizations, is the people involved in them. Part of what makes college so great is that you are there with people who are passionate and motivated just like you. When you join an organization, you meet people that don’t just have that drive, but who are also committed to the same ideals as you, and there is nothing that forms a stronger bond than that. Long after you forget the steps of Mitosis, or pretty much anything Plato or Socrates ever said, those people, the ones who stayed up until 4 am making banners with you for the biggest event your organization will put on that year, they are still going to be there. They will be your friends and your support system throughout your college career and even afterward.
So the next time your see that your Fraternities and Sororities are having meet and greets, get involved; when you pass the sign up on the bulletin board that the cooking club is looking for members, get involved; when positions for your student government are blasted through your e-mail accounts, get involved; when the cultural groups have tables outside the main buildings on campus with free samples of their cuisine, get some of that food, then get involved! If you don’t see something that inspires you, then start your own business, start a club, start a social group, but get involved, because it will be the single greatest decision of your college career.