Doing well academically is your primary job in college, but it isn’t your only job. College should be a holistic experience, and getting involved on campus is important for your success. College experts say involvement helps you do better in your classes than if you focus solely on your studies. Getting involved can teach you effective time management skills, connect you with like-minded people, and help you feel at home at school.
Making friends and developing interests benefits your mental well-being. Research shows that getting involved helps students feel a clearer sense of purpose and engagement with their education, career planning, campus community, and personal life management.
So instead of curling up with your laptop to binge shows on Netflix, head out to see what’s happening on campus. Here are six ideas to get going.
1. Attend campus events
College events are organized with students in mind. You can find film series, lectures, music, plays, visiting speakers, sporting events, and more. The best part is a lot of it is free! You should also take advantage of career center presentations, academic workshops, and department events within your major.
The best way to find events is through social media. Follow your college and your major’s department on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Or look for information on your school’s website for how to connect with different groups.
2. Join an intramural sports team or an exercise club
Intramural teams and sports clubs can help you meet people and get moving at the same time. We all know exercise keeps you healthy and boosts your mood, but did you know it sharpens memory too?
Every college student needs it. When I was in college, a friend talked me into trying Ultimate Frisbee because the intramural team needed women. It was intimidating to be new at a sport, but that group became my social circle, and the sport turned into a long-term passion. So be willing to put in the work because it’s worth it, and you may surprise yourself!
3. Join a student organization—or start one
Campuses abound with organizations and clubs. Your options can range from academic, cultural, and religious clubs to singing, outdoor, and environmental groups. There’s student media, LGTBQ+ communities, leadership opportunities, and improv and theater troupes. There are clubs for martial arts, Harry Potter fans, and Dungeons and Dragons. And if you have an interest not represented on your campus, you can usually start a group for it!
Besides helping you meet people, joining a club can boost your résumé, especially if you get involved with leadership and organization. But whatever you choose to do, make sure you enjoy it, and don’t overextend yourself by trying to join them all.
4. Get involved in student government
Student leaders represent the voice of the student body to convey interests to the campus faculty and administration. Want to have a say and know what’s going on? Student government gives you a seat at the table, where you can meet administrators and advocate for student concerns.
A 2018 study revealed that students who got involved and met regularly with campus administrators felt more effective. Not every student government has the same decision-making power, but without your voice, administrators won’t know what’s important to students.
5. Try out for a play or musical group
Performing Arts majors may have first opportunity but find out what your school offers for acting groups, theater productions, and performance ensembles. Maybe there’s an improv group that welcomes beginners or smaller productions open to students new to acting. If you’re a behind-the-scenes person, look into stage crew possibilities. Do you play an instrument or sing? Don’t give it up just because you’re done with high school. Your college may offer opportunities to continue that passion, so take advantage of them.
6. Participate in the extended community
Volunteering or working in the community builds connections. If you’ve been awarded work-study as financial aid, you could get paid to intern at a nonprofit organization. If you didn’t qualify for work-study, volunteering a few hours a week is rewarding even without pay. Try canvassing for local fall elections, volunteering at a food bank or school, or tutoring English at the local literacy council.
Feeling at home on campus takes time, but getting involved is the best antidote to homesickness and loneliness. So get out there and get involved!
Check out our Student Life section for more advice on joining your campus community!