Much of your college experience will be defined by what you choose to do outside of class, so when should that actually be planned? Should it even be something you plan? Yes.
As you begin to research what colleges you will apply to, make sure you’re looking at the various student organizations you may want to join. Here are some reasons why this is important:
- Building a strong network and resume: Your experience in college will be defined by more than just what classes you take. Your social experience will not only help you get through rough days for the next 4 years, but also help you build a network that you can tap into during your career search and even afterwards. If you know what career path you want to take, find some people who have jobs in that field and see what they have listed on their LinkedIn profile under “Organizations” and “Volunteer Experience”. See if the schools you’re looking at have those or similar clubs.
- Adjusting to college life: Going from High School to College comes with a lot of changes and it can feel pretty lonely if you think you’re going through them alone. Joining organizations that are filled with like-minded people, or people from a similar background, or those who have a similar set of values to your own help you adjust to these changes because you see people similar to you going through that same experience.
- Taking a break from academics: Finding a student organization that is centered around a cause you are excited about, or a hobby or activity you find fun and interesting can help you get a break from school and/or work, while helping you build your network, and adding gold stars to your resume!
- Discovering your passion(s): Some people know what they’re going to study and the career path they’re going to take right when they enter college. If you’re one of these people: joining a club that is associated with that field of study can help you learn more about career opportunities, expand your knowledge in that area, and also help you meet people who are working in the field. If you are someone who has not yet discovered your dream career: go to a few events or meetings for different career/major-focused clubs. This could be a great way to hone in on what you enjoy the most!
- Learning key collaboration skills, people skills, and developing your leadership style: Joining an organization in a leadership position, or being a part of student government on campus is a great way to learn key leadership skills that you can speak to at a job interview. You’ll learn some valuable lessons in managing and motivating people, working through conflict in a professional manner, and delegating tasks. Besides making you a better person and a more experienced professional, all of these are excellent skills to be able to display on a resume and speak to during interviews.
Research shows that people who partake in social activities that allows them to escape their day-to-day routine are in fact happier and less stressed out. So, as a part of your college research, make sure you’re also planning your social experience!