Get Involved!!!

Now that you are in college, it is very important that you do not just sit around and keep to yourself. I understand that there are times you need to be alone (think studying!), and other times you want to be by yourself to read, workout, watch a movie, etc. However, it is VERY important that you get involved in various activities on campus. Even if you have a job, there are sill ways you can get involved to take full advantage of your college experience. As a former 2 and 3 job undergraduate, I can tell you that it was a critical aspect of my college experience to be a part of campus life.

With that said and before moving on to the reasons to get involved, here is one way I participated on campus. As you can see I was the school mascot for my college. Yes, that’s me as the Temple Owl in 1981—hard to believe!!!!

owlpix

The key to getting involved in various activities is that it really is the case that college is more than just going to class. College is a time to grow, both intellectually and personally. Getting involved in activities adds to that growth. So, here are 7 reasons for why you should get involved:

1) You will make friends. By joining a club, you automatically increase the chances you will make new friends. Sitting in your room playing video games isn’t going to give you the opportunity to meet others, nor is constant studying in a library study room. Remember, the friends you make in college can last a lifetime. The more people you meet, the more friends you make, and the more you can have fun doing things on and off campus.

2) It is good for your mental and physical health. The evidence is pretty convincing that being around others is good for various aspects of your health. For example, when you interact with others in a campus activity you’ll feel better about yourself, and give yourself potential sources of support.

3) You will actually learn new things. I know you may not want to hear it, but college involves learning both in and out of the classroom. So even when you are not sitting in a lecture with 500 other students, getting involved gives you the chance to learn something new. This may be how to play a new sport if you decide to join a rugby club or what are new methods of recycling if you join a student environmental group.

people-2557396_12804) You can boost your resume. I don’t want to get too crazy about this, but there is nothing wrong with listing various college activities on your resume. You should list those activities that really say something about who you are. Employers and graduate and professional school selection committees look at your college activities. I was in the National Psychology Honor Society (PSI Chi) when I was an undergraduate—listing this organization on my resume was important when I was applying for grad school in psychology.

5) You can get involved with community service. There are many activities on campus that will offer you the opportunity to work in the community. This could include being involved with philanthropic activities tied in to a sorority, campus political organizations that promote citizenship (e.g., voter registration), or various other clubs who work with community organizations (e.g., Habitat for Humanity,). It’s great to know that for many of you who have been involved in community service before college, the chance to continue your involvement in the community can continue.

6) You can gain insight about your ultimate career goal. College is a time to explore possibilities, and to figure out what you want to do after graduation. If you have an interest in something, join a club or activity that matches your interest and see where it leads. It’s possible that your involvement in a particular club or activity will be the catalyst for your future career.

7) You get a chance to experience diversity. In most cases, whatever club or activity you get involved with will involve students of various national origins, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, political views, and more. For some of you, this may be your first opportunity to interact with people who are really different than you. Take advantage of this opportunity!

I hope you will take my advice and get involved on campus—you won’t regret it!

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

Advertisements

The Benefits of Volunteering in College

When I step back and look at what types of activities help lead to success for students in college, I am struck by how many of the most successful students have done volunteer (community service) work while they were in college. This volunteering is quite varied and includes disaster relief, working in a church daycare center, helping on a cancer ward, being a server in a soup kitchen, tutoring, working at a rape crisis center, being involved in a political campaign, etc. Before getting into the benefits of volunteering I need to be clear that volunteering, by definition, is doing work for free. Thus, if you are unable to work for free or feel that your time is too valuable to not get paid, then you will have to think of other activities that can help you succeed in college and beyond. I also want to add that it is great if you can volunteer with some organization that is related to your ultimate career goal, but any kind of volunteering has its benefits.

volunteers-601662_1280

As far as numbers, Google reported that “In 2010, 26.1 percent of college students around the United States volunteered, about on par with the overall percentage of Americans who volunteered that year. College student volunteerism peaked at 31.2 percent in 2004, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.”

It would be great if more students volunteered, and I hope this post gets more students to see that volunteering can be beneficial in so many ways. So, here goes:

1) Volunteer work stands out in your resume. Given that only about a quarter of college students volunteer your resume will likely increase your standing relative to your peers. It indicates a certain type of motivation that many other students will not be able to show.

2) When you volunteer, you are doing work that benefits the community and will make you feel good. Whether it is working at a food bank or picking up trash in a park you are improving your community. There is a great deal of self-satisfaction knowing you have helped others in your community.

3) Volunteering shows that you have good time-management skills. You are able to show that you could take on an unpaid position at the same time you are taking classes and participating in other activities.

4) Often, volunteering shows that you can be part of a team. This quality can be very important, especially to employers who expect their workers to be able to interact with others in the workplace. I should note that there are a number of companies that do volunteer work in the community. If you already have volunteer experience, you will likely stand out compared to other applicants.

5) Certain scholarships require community service to apply. Thus, volunteering may boost your ability to get financial aid.

6) When you volunteer you are almost certain to build networks among the people you meet. As you might imagine, these contacts can be an excellent resource when you are looking for a job or need a letter of recommendation. In addition, wherever you volunteer you will form social networks with people who have similar interests.

7) You are able to build on existing skills and develop new skills in a volunteer situation. For example, you might have some computer skills, but in your volunteer position you might learn new ways of using computers. In addition, there are often times when you volunteer when you need to think in new ways. You may have a meager budget but big obstacles to overcome. This can get you to think in creative ways to solve problems.

8) Volunteering offers you the opportunity to explore career options. You are able to check out different activities to give you an idea of what career path might be best for you. In addition, volunteering may let you know that a certain path is really not what you thought it would be.

9) When you are in a volunteer situation you often learn to lead. Although you might not think about this when you start volunteering, many organizations rely on volunteers to get things accomplished. Given the large number of volunteers, it is pretty common for someone (it could be you!) to be made the leader of a group. This may not be what you wanted when you first decided to volunteer, but keep in mind that gaining this leadership experience is a real positive.

volunteer-global

To find out where you can volunteer you just need to:

  • Talk to others
  • Check out http://www.volunteer.gov
  • Contact the Career Center on campus
  • Contact any non-profit organization or charity
  • Contact the Red Cross if there is a natural disaster (e.g., tornado)
  • Ask a religious leader

Also, you might consider volunteering with a friend so that you can make a difference together. In the end, I am confident that you will feel great about volunteering. Not only will it lead to a stronger resume, but more important it will lead to a stronger you!