• Navigating the Student Organizations Fair!

    by Alyson Robinett

    A group of 14 college students posing in front of a scenic overlook with mountains in the background.

    When students come to college, one of the first events they will most likely go to is the school’s student organizations fair. There will be a ton of tables with many current students trying to convince you to join their club. It can seem very overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

     

    Know Yourself

    One of the best ways to approach this fair is by already listing out what your main interests are before you go to the event. This way, you’ll know what kinds of clubs you already want to join, and you won’t be distracted by the various other ones.

     

    Take Your Time

    Another good tip for joining clubs is to make sure you’re not joining too many at once. This was my problem during my freshman year of college. I had already done step one; I knew what I was interested in and what I wanted to join. The problem was that I had too many interests. I ended up joining six clubs! That is way too much for a freshman to handle. Because of this, I became way too stressed and had to quit three of them in less than a month.

     

    Make sure that you give yourself a limit as to how many clubs you join. A good number to start with is one or two. Remember, you have four more years to try out different organizations; you don’t have to join them all in the beginning.

     

    Look Beyond Resume Builders

    Be sure to join at least one organization that personally interests you. Don’t just join something because you think it will look good on your resume. Future employers will not care if you joined a club that focused on your major or community service. They care more about your interests and passions. If they ask you an interview question regarding your experience in a club that you didn’t care about, it won’t matter what the club was about. You have to be able to talk about your experiences and relate them to interview questions, and you can’t do that if you are part of an organization that bores you.

     

    The student org fair doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. These clubs are here to connect you with other students who have similar interests. Go to the fair with an open mind. You have four years to explore and find the groups that are the best fit for you!

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  • The Benefits of Student Activities and How to Get Involved

    by Juan Andres Rodriguez

    A group of Florida Atlantic University students are standing or kneeling on a plaza on their campus. There are palm trees and a large residence hall behind them.

    Every college student has probably heard at least one time from a friend or elder to “enjoy the college experience because there is nothing else like it.” Some may take this advice seriously, but the majority would just brush it off as an insignificant suggestion. Personally, I used to be one of the students to brush it off and ignore this advice, but I now realize the importance of participating in different school activities, joining clubs, and even getting involved with the student government. From meeting new people to opening up opportunities for the future, check out the benefits of student activities and how to get involved.

    Getting Started

    At this point, you may still be questioning the importance of getting involved in student activities at your school and for good reason. As I mentioned before, I also did not understand how beneficial and enjoyable it is to join different organizations and participate in various events. Getting involved in school activities is a lot like reading a book. The hardest part is getting yourself to start, but once you get past that barrier you soon realize how entertaining and fun it actually is. Not to mention how both of these things are not only a fun pastime but are beneficial for your everyday life and future.

    Jumping In

    As for how to apply for a student organization or club, I recommend contacting to your university’s student activities office, as they will have administrators that can help you get involved. Just google your college along with the words “student involvement” and there will be information on how to contact them. Often, clubs try to have an active presence on social media as well. Many campuses host a student organization fair at the beginning of the school year to help students get involved with campus organizations.

    Building Relationships

    One of the huge benefits you receive from joining a student organization are the people you meet and spend time with. The relationships that you build by participating in student activities and organizations are invaluable. Not only are they helpful in the present but are important for your future. These new relationships become part of your network. You never know who may help you with landing a job or achieving a personal goal. For example, one of my goals is to join student government. By participating in different activities online, I have already been able to connect with the Student Government President, Vice President, and some House Members.

    As the new school year begins, be proactive in seeking extracurricular activities to round out your college experience. Go out there and get involved because great opportunities await!

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  • 11 Tips to Make Any College Club Great

    by Alexa Kosloski

    A laptop screen with a Zoom call open, showing a meeting with 22 participants.

    Throughout my undergrad career, I have served on executive boards for 3 different clubs and served Chapter President for one. Having this experience has allowed me to understand what it takes to truly have a successful college club. Although every organization is different, the steps it takes to be successful are similar. Below are 11 tips that can help take any college club from good to great.

    1) Brainstorm ideas ahead of time

    If you have the opportunity to do so, brainstorm ideas for your club before the semester starts. This can be a huge time saver and stress relief. To accomplish this, have your executive board meet on Zoom during the summer or during winter break prior to the semester start. By brainstorming your ideas ahead of time, you will have an idea of what exactly your club offers so that you can encourage others to join. This also will save you time in the future, so you can just be at your club events instead of stressing about what your next meeting will contain. Members can tell if a club planned something ahead of time or was put together last minute.

    2) Pay attention to your members

    While you may have a million different ideas for your club, your members may not be a fan of all of them. Try to vary your events early on so that you can gauge what activities your members enjoy most and use that feedback to shape what your club offers. Make sure to include members as much as possible, especially if you’re a virtual club. It will be more engaging and will give them more to talk about when other students and employers ask them what they do in the club.

    3) Don’t underestimate word of mouth marketing

    Besides just posting flyers about your events, the executive board members need to share your events with their friends and classmates. You can also see if your professors will share your flyers or let you talk about your bigger events during classes that are of relevant subject matter to your club. A student may be more likely to attend your event if they hear about it from a friend, rather than just seeing it posted on the bulletin board.

    4) Get inspiration from others

    Pay attention to the actions and activities of other clubs on your campus and clubs from other colleges that provide a similar experience. Strive to stay up to date with trends in the specific industry that your club revolves around, or even current events. Inspiration can come from anywhere!

    5) Change it up

    Regardless of what your club is, a little change can be very refreshing. That’s not to say that you have to drastically change the activities that you offer, although you certainly could if you want to. But perhaps there’s a way to improve how you carry out your original activities. For instance, maybe your club has fundraisers at the same restaurant every year. Consider holding the event at another restaurant. A simple change of location can breathe new life into an annual event.

    6) Make it more than a resume builder

    The number one thing that makes a great college club is the executive board. No matter what the reputation of your club is, the executive board has the ability to hold or change that. Be willing to put in the work, not just list the position on your resume. The best clubs put their members first and know that their work will help keep the club running for years after their terms have ended.

    7) Stay organized

    There are so many dates, times, and documents to keep track of when you’re on an executive board. Keep it all in one place that every member can access. This will reduce confusion and you’ll all be able to find everything when you need it. I highly recommend using Google Calendar and Google Drive for all of your club’s organization needs.

    8) Do your checks and balances ahead of time

    While normal member meetings may not require this, running a large event has a lot of moving pieces. Make sure that you talk to the necessary parties WAY in advance. Each piece takes time and the more time that you give yourself, the better your results will be.

    9) Don’t burn yourself out

    While it’s great to have tons of ideas, a club’s members have midterms, finals, and holidays to attend to. Keep these dates in mind to avoid having events during these times, if possible. Your members will appreciate having that time to themselves. In addition to this, gauge how everyone on the executive board is feeling. Do they seem burnt out? If the answer is yes, try to build in a week with no events or meetings to give everyone break. This can really re-energize the board.

    10) Help each other

    While everyone on an executive board has their own tasks to accomplish, some tasks involve more work than others. If you have the chance to help someone, help them. This will create a better bond between you and the other executive board member, and the task will be less stressful and more successful.

    11) Plan for transitions

    There’s a lot of knowledge gained from being on an executive board. You learn what works and what doesn’t work, what struggles and opportunities the club has, important club requirements, and much more. If your club’s former executive board has to learn all of this on their own, they are bound to miss out on potential opportunities and repeat past mistakes. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, have each former executive board member train the incoming board member for their position. This will be immensely helpful and result in greater success for the club.

    While this may seem like a lot to remember, the basic idea comes down to putting your people first. That includes both other executive board members, as well as your general club members. If you continuously work to put them first, everything else will fall into place.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog? If you are a college student and interested in writing for us - click here to pitch your idea and get started!

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  • Participate on purpose: Building strong relationships on campus

    by Jaylen Brown

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    I attend the University of Central Florida, one of the largest higher education institutions in the nation with over 70,000 students. It can be easy to feel lost or like you’re just a number at a university this size. The easiest way to avoid this is to get involved or to participate on purpose. I like this phrase because it shows that involvement can be much more than you think if you just put your mind to it. Other than joining a typical club or organization, there are tons of simple ways to build and grow relationships on campus that you may not have thought of.

    Get involved

    The most simple and obvious way to grow relationships on campus is to get involved. This can include joining clubs, organizations, or finding a niche. Involvement brings such a strong sense of self-belonging and community. Personally, I couldn’t imagine going through college without getting involved in at least one thing. I joined the Marching Knights and became a College of Business ambassador. I’ve met most of my closest friends within these two organizations – organizations that turned into families.

    Involvement doesn’t always have to be campus led and can be student initiated with those who share common interests. For example, I ended up creating a small group that plays volleyball on campus every week. Sometimes, others nearby may ask to join in which allows for an opportunity to meet new friends. It doesn’t have to be anything complex, just a gathering for people to meet.

    Step outside of your comfort zone

    This technique of relationship building is most definitely the hardest, but in my opinion, the most rewarding. I want to specifically focus on how to use this diverse method to meet and talk with new people. This can include introducing yourself to a classmate that you’ve never spoken to before or even purposely inviting others to join an activity that you’re engaged in.

    Of course, this can be challenging; many overthink it and let their minds get clouded with doubts, such as “what do I say to this person?” or “what if they don’t want to talk to me?” This happened to me as a freshman. During the first few weeks, everyone in the dining hall sat alone because they were brand new and didn’t know anyone. When these doubts clouded my mind, I reminded myself that most other students here are experiencing the same thing. They all wanted to make friends but didn’t want to risk rejection. I initiated a conversation with the guy in line behind me and asked to sit with him afterwards. He was delighted by my request, and we both made a new friend – all because I stepped out of my comfort zone.

    Keep your head up

    When walking or biking around campus, I always see friends and acquaintances. Usually when I attempt to speak or wave, they don’t notice me because they are staring at their phones or have their headphones blasting. I purposefully differentiate myself from “the campus zombies” and walk with my head up, making myself approachable. It makes a huge difference – priming a way to strengthen relationships. I encourage other college students to also keep their heads up while migrating across campus – it creates an opportunity to “catch up” with your peers.

    I’ve asked a few people what they do on their phones while walking and I was shocked by the responses. Many feel socially uncomfortable if they aren’t doing what everyone else is doing, so they just swipe left and right on the home screen or even type random letters in their notes. If this sounds like you, it’s totally fine to not do what everyone else is doing. Keeping your head up makes you stand out and gives you the opportunity to socialize with others, overall strengthening relationships.

    I hope you now realize that building strong relationships on campus can be much easier than you might have originally thought. Just by making some small adjustments and by participating on purpose, you can have a more meaningful and impactful college experience.

     
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  • Don't Let the Unknown Stop You from Being Involved

    by Maddie Parker Martinez

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    As students, we’re always told how important it is to get involved on campus, but sometimes this can seem really intimidating. There are so many options for involvement with clubs, programs, and organizations, how can you know where to start? Not to mention that putting yourself in a situation with new people can be really scary, at least I know it is for me.

    I’m currently a junior attending Utah Valley University and there are hundreds of ways to get involved on my campus, as is true with most universities. One of the greatest things I’ve learned is that being involved comes in many shapes and sizes and everyone’s experiences with involvement is different.

    Trying new things

    My freshman year of college I got accepted into a scholarship program called the UVU Ambassador Program. I helped plan events for prospective students and traveled to different high schools around Utah to educate high school students about attending UVU. This program taught me so much and I loved every minute of my experiences there. However, during my sophomore year I realized that I wanted to try something new. I’m here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with a desire to change. Whether you’re currently involved and looking to try new things or you’re looking where to start, I hope you hear my experiences and are motivated to find the way that is best for you.

    Getting outside your comfort zone

    I was nervous to try something new and break out of my old routines and habits. Despite this, I knew that if I wanted to continue to live my best college experience, I had to put myself out there and search for something different. This can take time. By my junior year I found what I wanted to do next – participate in my school’s PRSSA Chapter. PRSSA is short for Public Relations Student Society of America. It helps to develop students going into the Public Relations field by expanding their networks and teaching important skills with hands on learning. I had been attending a lot of their events for my classes when I made the decision to run for the secretary position on the student board. This was a hard transition for me because I knew I would be closing a chapter in my life. However, it also meant that I would meet new people and learn skills that were out of my comfort zone.

    Accomplishing great things

    I decided to take a huge leap of faith by applying and to my surprise, I won! I was shocked, nervous, and excited all at the same time. The moral of the story is that when we take risks, we can accomplish great things. More importantly, taking risks helps us put ourselves in a place that will make us happy. Moving from one form of involvement to the next takes courage, but also has rewards.

    My wish for all those who read this is to know that no matter where you are in your involvement, if you want a change, you need to believe in yourself enough to make it happen. It’s okay to be afraid of the unknown, but don’t let it stop you from getting to where you want to be.

     

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  • Collegiate extracurriculars: Can too much of a good thing become bad?

    by Sydnie Ho

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    Getting involved on campus has led me to some of my best experiences in college. I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people and learned so many new things. I went into college with the idea of getting involved in everything, which resulted in me getting almost ‘too involved’. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to do homework, hang with friends, or even just relax. It is good to be involved, but you do not have to be involved in everything. You have to make sure you find the right balance.

    Taking a chance

    Let me start with saying, get involved! It makes college 100x better. Getting this advice from older peers, I decided to dive right in during my first year. I went to a bunch of general meetings and met so many people. From there, I decided what organizations I wanted to keep pursing. It is scary at first, showing up at your first club meeting not knowing anyone, but it just takes a “hello” to start a new friendship.

    Not only have I been able to meet some incredible people, but I’ve had so many opportunities to grow and experience new things. I landed a leadership position my sophomore year, which was such a rewarding experience. I learned so much and am able to talk about it in job interviews. Getting involved can be scary, but the rewards are worth it. Don’t be afraid to take a chance!

    Keeping up with the Jones

    Recognize that there is a fine line between getting involved and getting too involved. My freshman year, I made a friend who was involved in so many organizations and working an internship, all while taking 21 credits. He would push me to get involved and be like him, and I started to feel the pressure. I went to many different club meetings that I was not invested in. I was just doing it to keep up with the everyone else. I soon realized that I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. There is no point in getting involved with something if you aren’t passionate enough to grow from the experiences you are investing in.

    I learned I needed to stop comparing my involvements to others and just focus on the ones I actually enjoyed. Even now, as I am taking on new exciting projects and positions for this semester, I am realizing there are still things I need to drop. And that’s okay. Do the things you want to do and stop wasting your time on things you think you need. There is no point in having an organization on your resume when you weren’t truly involved. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. You are going to make the most out of your experiences because you are involved with your passions.

    Using time wisely

    With that said, I suggest taking some time to reflect on the organizations you are in and where you are putting your time. Is there something more you want to do? Are you involved in too many things? Are you doing these things for yourself or for someone else?

    You are going to enjoy college a lot more the quicker you recognize your passions. Allocate your time accordingly. Good luck ?

     

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  • Recovery on campus: Finding support through peers

    by Jennifer Leonard

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    Harmful substance use continues to be problematic among college campuses in the United States. Binge drinking, depression, and stimulant use are on the rise, resulting in plummeting retention rates and low classroom attendance. Alcohol and marijuana have been pinpointed as the two most frequently used substances by college students, which in turn have been linked with inadequate test performance, drunk driving, hangovers, and suicide attempts. 

    One intervention that has been effective in combating substance use and co-occurring disorders within a college setting is peer support, found in programs like recovery communities and other support groups on campus. Peer intervention is beneficial when membership is deep-rooted in mutual experiences and respect. 

    Giving Back

    As a student in long term recovery from harmful substance use, I came to University of Indianapolis (UIndy) with an immense gratitude for the opportunity to better myself. Thinking back on my past, I was not always so driven. Childhood trauma, lack of sound coping skills, and weak boundaries led me down a dangerous path. My decisions were less than fruitful, and that reflected outwardly in my life. Thankfully, I have been given a second chance. The combination of the memories of my past and who I have become today led me to my life in recovery. 

    Giving back has been a vital component of my sustained sobriety. I am driven to carry the message of recovery to those who are still struggling. This idea helped me, along with another UIndy student who is also in recovery, create the Healing Hounds, a peer support group for students struggling with mental health and/or addiction. While we both love the University of Indianapolis, prior to the creation of Healing Hounds there were no services or groups on campus for people in recovery. Initially, we thought we would start a 12-step meeting at UIndy. However, it did not take us long to realize this may not appeal to students. After researching different options, we learned about the Collegiate Recovery Community model that exists on other larger campuses. It offers a safe space for students to talk about recovery. There are no rules. Members do not have to commit to anything. We thought that something similar would be helpful to the UIndy campus.

    Continuing to Help Others

    Our initial goal was to provide hope by sharing our stories with others like us.  Being new to the UIndy campus was a bit of a barrier at first. We both reached out to students in our classes and recruited several students for our first meeting. Surprisingly, we filled our entire Healing Hounds board during our first day. Participation grew with each meeting, so much so that we needed to seek a larger room. 

    The mission of Healing Hounds is to provide a peer support network to students with mental health issues and/or addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, and/or sex by providing fellowship and support for students with mental health issues and/or addiction in a non-clinical setting. Healing Hounds promotes holistic wellness and encourages students with mental health issues and/or addiction to live life to the fullest, despite their struggles, in a way only peers, allies, and survivors can.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or addictions, please reach out to a similar organization or hotline. Recovery is difficult, but it can be made much easier with people by your side to encourage you. If your campus does not have an active support group, I want to encourage you to start your own! You never know how many people you can impact through it.

     

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  • Lessons from a Student Leader during a Global Pandemic and Beyond

    by Margaret Poltorak

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    Being the president of my sorority has taught me about ways to thrive as a leader. I’ve learned a lot about myself in regard to my leadership strengths and weaknesses. Being a student leader on campus is not easy, especially when faced with unexpected events such as COVID-19. But here are the lessons I have learned since gaining my position. 

    Expect the unexpected

    This has been especially relevant for all student leaders during COVID-19. No matter how much planning and thought goes into every decision, there are still going to be events you cannot control. Whether it’s something as large as a global pandemic or as small as a member asking a question you weren’t expecting, know the only thing you can do is your very best. With every decision I make, I say “I’m making the best decision with the information I was given.” Especially in times of uncertainty, knowing your limits is extremely important as a student leader.

    Have people you can confide in

    Having people in your corner to seek advice from is key to being a successful student leader. My own support network includes: my executive board to support me with confidential information; my mother to vent to when being a leader takes its toll; and a friend not in the sorority that I can gain an outside perspective from. These people became the foundation that supports me and my greatest cheerleaders. When I first got this position, I tried to do a lot of the work on my own. Once I accepted that it’s okay to ask for help, I became a better leader.  

    It’s just a position

    Remember you are a student and a human being before you are a leader in your organization. Your mental health and academics should still take priority, even when that seems difficult. This is something I reminded myself often. No act, task, event, speech, or any other responsibility is more important than your own well-being. Remember to take a step back every once in a while and keep your position and your experience in perspective. Remember that it’s okay to say “no” and turn something down. You’re still a student and a human.

    Remember why you took the position

    In every student leadership position, there are the great moments – the times when you begin to think you are leaving a legacy. However, there are also tough times. I have had several moments in which I question why I accepted this position. Whenever I feel that way, I remember why I ran for presidency in the first place. During elections, I wrote a letter to myself about what this position means, and I continue to look back upon it during tough times. Doing this has allowed me to approach almost every week with the passion I had in the beginning of my term. When faced with challenges, remind yourself of why you took the position. 

    Being a leader can push you to grow as a student and a person. Many students can learn a lot through their experiences of being a leader, but it is important to remember the things above in order to have balance between your position and other obligations.

     

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  • Finding Your Home: Connect to your campus through student organizations

    by Taylor Guynup

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    College is a brand new, exciting adventure. Finally experiencing freedom and taking the next step towards your future can be both thrilling and frightening. For me, the terrifying part never hit me until I was trying to find an organization to join. I knew that joining a student organization would help me connect to my new campus, but there were so many, with so many different objectives, cultures, and people. I ended up getting caught up in the prestige of an organization and I was miserable for my entire freshman year, because I didn’t feel at home. After joining my current organization, I have never once doubted my decision. I have found my best friends and I love being involved. If I could go back and give my freshman year self some advice on picking an organization, here is what I would say. 

    Don’t judge a book by its cover  

    Organizations are going to put their best foot forward when recruiting new members. It may seem like the perfect organization for you, but it may not be. The opposite might also be true. Before judging an organization right off the bat, do your research and talk to the members to see if you think you belong there. 

    Try everything 

    There are going to be multiple organizations available for you to join. If you find your home on your first try, that’s great! If you don’t, keep looking. Most campuses have organizations that fit into a variety of categories – academic, social, service, cultural, spiritual, etc. Try to look at organizations from more than one category; there might be a less-well-known one that could be the perfect fit for you. 

    Consider your goals 

    I am a pre-med major so I wanted to join an organization that gave me opportunities to boost my resume and also allowed me to be surrounded by other common-minded people. Therefore, that is what I looked for in an organization. There are going to be different organizations that have different purposes and events. To filter out organizations, look for ones with shared values and that hold events that you would be interested in. 

    Look at the people in the organization 

    If you are standing in an interest meeting or an event and you look around, really think about if those are the type of people you want to be with. These are going to be the peers that you go to events with and may even become your best friends. The people also represent what the organization is going to be to you. Another thing, don’t join an organization just because your best friend is in it. I only knew a few people when I first joined my organization, but I liked all of the people I met and that’s one of the reasons I knew it would be my home. 

    Make a pros and cons list 

    If you are stuck between a couple of organizations, make a pros and cons list. This can make you see what you value about an organization and can make you rethink some decisions.  Evaluate the time you have available for extracurricular activities, too. With good time management, many students can successfully participate in more than one organization.

    Everyone finds their own home

     Just because I didn’t find my home in my freshmen year organization does not mean that others didn’t.  Every person has different wants and needs and every organization has its strengths. Be respectful and maintain your friendships with those who may have found a home in another group. 

    Going through these steps is important when looking at organizations. Finding your home can make a huge difference in your college career; I know it has in mine. 

     

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