Every college has its own version of Activities’ Day, usually held during syllabus week, when all the clubs on campus showcase what they are to the incoming student body in hopes of recruiting new members. Depending on the size of your school, the number of clubs can vary from hundreds to over a thousand. One of the first mistakes of the many inevitable ones freshmen make is to sign up for a hundred clubs. They are then plagued by emails from them for the rest of their undergraduate careers and maybe even after. Keeping these simple guidelines in your mind will help you pick and choose what is best for your college life, because after all, they are only going to last four years.
1. Accept that you will not be able to continue to be a part of the collegiate version of every club you used to be involved with in high school.
This will not be for lack of resources, but because you simply won’t have the time. Even if you do manage to juggle them, you will be a jack of all trades, master of none. Speaking from the point of future employers, it looks better to hold a position in a club than be a part of ten separate clubs, which in turn do not make you look involved, but indecisive.
2. It is a good time to try out something that you have never done before either because of its bizarre nature or because you just never found the time.
It may be something as simple but hard to find as archery or as time consuming as an intramural sport. This said, do get involved in some way or another because the same future employers like to see that you were more than an academic during your college years – the collegiate version of being “well-rounded”.
3. Clubs allow for a little time into the semester before their deadlines for submitting dues, so wait a while to figure out your schedule.
This may be relevant every year because some clubs change their meeting times from year to year. I paid dues upward of $100 for a club my first semester whose meetings I could never attend because they conflicted with an evening class that was not scheduled till later.
4. Going off the last point, if you feel like you want to leave a club for any reason, whether financial, time-related or personal, do not feel obligated to stick to the club just because you signed up for it.
Not only will you be doing yourself a disservice that may harm you later, the club itself will do better with completely committed individuals. Besides this, you may take on a position that you will not do justice to, possibly even taking away the opportunity from someone else who may have really wanted it.
5. If you have to pick between clubs, attend meetings of both and pick the one whose people you feel more comfortable with.
Clubs are made up of the people in them and they may just lead you to a group of your new best friends. Even if they don’t end up being your closest confidants, having to spend your evenings with people you do not get along with will make this more of a chore than a good use of your downtime.
6. That said, do not join a club simply because your friends are in it.
While the familiarity of your high school friends around you may be comforting, college is a time to experiment and find the real “you”. Similarly, do not join a club simply because everyone in your major does. If you are not committed to it, they will be willing competition in holding positions within the club, besides which an unexpected club shows potential employers that you have diverse interests.
Whichever approach you end up using to get involved in the clubs scene, be rest assured that there is no right or wrong way, just your way.