College is often a period in our lives where we truly see ourselves grow into responsible, active and independent individuals. Four-year universities such as UCR serve as wellsprings that provide students with the resources and opportunities to meet their fullest potential. Despite this abundance of freedom that college students have at their disposal, they can often find themselves developing a tunnel-vision mentality.
For some, college is simply about taking care of business in the classroom and walking out as soon as possible with a degree. Academics is no doubt the most important aspect of being a student, but to grow as an individual, it is important to embrace other activities outside of the classroom. This can include joining a campus club, organization or intramural sports team.
The first question one may ask is, “How does joining a group help to improve my college experience?” A common answer is that such involvement can provide students with the camaraderie they need to be happy and feel connected to their campus. Being a member of a campus organization can help students step outside their comfort zone and develop friendships that sometimes outlast college, not to mention the potential memories that can be made from being in these groups can last a lifetime.
Another benefit to being a part of a community on campus is that you could develop skills and experiences that will be useful when transitioning into the real world; more specifically, when pursuing a career. Most employers tend to seek out students who are active in their campus communities. They want individuals with leadership experience who have committed themselves to causes beyond their studies. Since a great number of college students have yet to begin their professional careers, joining a campus organization you are passionate about is the best way to gain this experience.
However, although many students may understand the value of being active organization members, they still face a couple of challenges. To start with, they have to find the campus groups that are right for them. In this case, it would be worthwhile to visit the many student organizations that table during the week. Specifically for UCR students, campus organizations table every Wednesday from around 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Bell Tower. Here, you can talk to different organizational representatives and obtain information such as sign-ups and meeting times.
Another useful way to find information about a campus group is to visit the Student Life office located in HUB 229 or by going online and visiting HighlanderLink. These resources will assist you with sorting through the hundreds of student organizations here on campus and help you narrow down your search. Tools like the Involvement Calculator on HighlanderLink will even recommend options based on your profile on the site.
The second challenge students may face when getting involved is balancing their academic and extracurricular schedules. Some students may be interested in joining multiple organizations, but may not have the time to be active in all of them. In this scenario, it is best to evaluate all the organizations you are interested in, prioritize the organizations you are passionate about and make your decisions based on time commitment.
Ideally, you should be part of at least one organization you enjoy and are active in and another couple that you like that are not too demanding. Most organizations tend not to be overly strict about your active participation, but it is worth pointing out that if you are ever planning to apply for a leadership position within the organization, then it is best to be as active as possible.