It’s that time of year when college students make their way back to campuses around the nation. It’s also your chance to do more than try to make it to class on time or survive hall showers. Take advantage of all the programs, activities and organizations around you, not just the ones with the coolest T-shirts.
Believe me, you won’t be sorry. Campus Compact, an organization of over 1200 college Presidents, is busy finding out what makes college students more successful. The outcome? In short, they found that students who are more involved are more successful academically #. So here are five ways you can make it happen this semester.
1. Become a member of a service- based organization. Getting involved with an organization that is primarily involved in community service is a great way to meet new people, and make community contacts that you can use in the future. Not to mention you’ll be positively affecting the world outside of the walls of your campus in the process. Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis or service fraternities or sororities are just a few organizations to seek out; check with your school to see which groups are active on your campus.
2. Join student government or a professional organization. Student Government Association (SGA) is a school-wide organization that acts as a liaison between students and faculty. Creating relationships with faculty and administration outside of the classroom is an invaluable asset, and working closely with them through SGA can help develop that connection.
3. Act on your passions. Are you an entrepreneur, an amateur photographer, or a serious animal rights advocate? Surround yourself with other students who have some of the same hobbies or beliefs you have. Let your passions for something outside of your academic interests be an outlet for making change and making yourself visible on campus this year.
4. Reconnect with existing networks and contacts. Your ex-roommate, old lab partner, or that kid in the back of the lecture hall are all bound to pop up again before you graduate. Actively maintain friendly relationships with as many people as you can, because you never know who your next study partner, job referral or missed lecture notes might come from. Social media is great for this — it’s not too personal, and doesn’t require that you have a reason for reaching out. And let’s not rule out old-fashioned face-to-face meetings as well. Grabbing a coffee or lunch will give you time to catch up with old acquaintances, and maybe make some new ones.
5. Get outside your comfort zone. It never hurts to learn about someone or something that is not a part of your day to day. You know what you get when you hang around the same people? The same information, the same conversation and the same point of view. Choose a group or topic you don’t know a lot about but might find interesting. Learn something about someone else, try something new and see what transpires. We’re building bridges here people!
So, as the first week of classes begin and organizations are seeking new members, take some time to consider what impression you want to make and then how to make it most effectively. Getting more involved outside of class will improve your academic performance and capitalize on opportunities for the present and the future. If for no other reason, your higher education costs money and time so why not make the most of it?