College is a center for culture and new ideas. The best thing you can do to feel connected to your college is to get involved in extracurricular activities. Try to take advantage of as many things as possible, both academic and extracurricular. Research shows that students who get involved are more likely to succeed academically and earn a degree. Getting involved is important for all students – resident, commuter, nontraditional. The nontraditional, commuter, part-time, or working student may not have as much time to participate, but will still get the benefits of being involved on campus.
Some schools have hundreds of extracurricular activities. You will find clubs, Greek organizations (fraternities and sororities can be social, philanthropic, and/or academic), student government, religious groups, newspapers, political groups, radio or TV stations, student life recreation activities, band, choir, special-interest groups, and intramural sports. They are easy to find. You will probably be given information on extracurricular activities at orientation. Some colleges hold activity fairs where you can get information about many organizations in one place. Go to the Student Life Office for a list of all official groups on campus. Check the bulletin boards and the school newspaper. Ask your RA. If you see someone doing something interesting on campus, ask them about it. If you think you might be interested in a group, go to a meeting to try it out. Ask about meeting frequency, the amount of involvement expected, the cost, if attendance is mandatory, and if the group is student-run or if a faculty member is involved. If you like what you hear, consider joining the group.
If you do your research and can’t find a campus group that fits your interests, why not start one? If you want to start a campus group that is part of a larger organization, contact the organization to collect more information. Keep track of your ideas. Contact the Student Activities office on campus to learn about the official steps you will have to take to start a new organization. Start talking about your group. You need to round up potential members and possibly a sponsor. Many colleges require a professor to serve as an advisor if the organization is to receive university recognition. Prepare all necessary documents and submit your proposal for review.
Forming a club can give you great experience that you can use in the future. By starting a club and acting as a club officer, you will gain valuable experience and skills that future employers will want.
The most important requirements for starting a successful club are interest and commitment. Once you know you have a team willing to commit to a regular meeting time and a cause, you can manage the rest with ease. Next you will need clear organization. Structure will keep the club together in slow times or in the event of a disagreement.
The structure of your group will depend on the formality desired. Here are some factors to take into consideration when deciding how formal your group should be:
There have been some very successful informal clubs. It all depends on what you define “success” to be. The larger and more complex you want your club to be, the more formal it should be. All of the things that make a club formal, such as having agendas, following Robert’s Rules of Order, having officers with known and specific duties, following your bylaws, etc., will make achieving your own, as well as your club’s, goals easier.
If your group is to be a formal one, there are some things you will have to do:
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