Getting involved on campus is one of the fastest and easiest ways for students to make new friends and feel connected with others. Colleges and universities across the country urge their undergraduates and graduate students to join groups and participate in extracurricular activities. Becoming engaged with other students is a rather simple way to create a sense of belonging, develop and grow outside the classroom, and possibly even run across opportunities for leadership experience.
USA Today reports that college experts have found extracurricular activities benefit students in more ways than one. Kevin Kruger of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators claims that students who participate in co-curricular activities study more, have higher GPAs and are more satisfied with their social lives.
The 2009 National Study of Student Engagement conducted by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators found that the average college student participates in two campus activities. The group surveyed more than 14,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students from 35 colleges and universities in the United States and results also showed that students who attend smaller colleges tend to become involved in more organizations.
Among students surveyed, 65% said that participating in campus activities helps them learn to balance their social and academic lives. Although 14% said their commitment to clubs caused their grades to drop, 25% said their grades increased since joining campus organizations. Experts recommend that students should be careful to avoid participating in too many activities at once so that their grades do not suffer.
Colleges and universities can use the results of the Student Engagement survey to figure out how to improve experiences for undergraduate students, and prospective college students can use the results to learn whether or not a particular campus offers the kinds of experiences which are known to benefit students.
Even clubs founded for the purpose of having fun typically wind up becoming a learning experience. A University of Minnesota group named the Campus People Watchers seems to have little or no benefit, but college experts still feel that it is a way for students with similar interests to connect. The group is also praised for being an alternative to “the party scene,” as it’s better to spend time in a group that meets for a purpose other than excessive drinking. Participating in college clubs is also a good resume-booster because potential employers want to hire well-rounded people.
On most college campuses, student clubs and organizations can be found in nearly any category imaginable. Some campuses literally have hundreds of clubs. From the environment to fine arts, and religion to politics, there really is something for everyone.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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