You’re an undergraduate student who’s looking for ways to advance your career, to amplify your knowledge in a certain area or just looking to practice more of your favorite hobbies. Don’t know where and/or how to do it? Look no further; we may just have the answer right here.
Extracurriculars are activities commonly practiced by students in different areas in which they desire to improve upon or simply practice more of. Like the word states it, these activities are held outside of class hours, and don’t account for any grade or academic credits. Teams, clubs, associations and other groups actively recruit students on college campuses each year to be active participants of many activities, which vary depending on what their objectives and focus as a group are. There are a lot of things you can join, but it will obviously depend on what you’re looking to get out of the experience. Up next, we’ll present a small guide that can help you explore your extracurricular options and how to join any of them.
- What extracurriculars can I join?
While some associations or clubs may require their potential new members some conditions like being enrolled in a major that aligns with their central ‘theme’, approving certain courses or having a specific GPA, many only expect the students interested in being a part of them to be compromised with their mission and objectives, as well as having enough free time on their calendars to actively engage in their schedule of events. So as for who you can affiliate with, the only major problem you could face is the association you want to join not accepting new members due to being at full capacity, in which case you can always find another similar group to enlist in – with the many options there are on the majority of the campuses nowadays, it’s highly probable there is more than one club that operates in your area of interest. If not, you could reach out to see if you can still participate in their activities even if it isn’t as an active member, or you could try forming your own (most colleges, if not all, give students the option of making their own association).
- What extracurriculars should I join?
This aspect is fully up to you and the goals you desire to accomplish. Many students prefer to take part in extracurriculars that relate to their career in order to amplify their knowledge in that area and to have experiences to add to their portfolios. Others use extracurriculars to have a place to practice old hobbies or develop new skills. Some are just looking for new experiences that expose them to unknown scenarios while giving them a chance to meet other people that share similar interests. What you choose to join should focus on what you are trying to get out of the experience. There are multiple areas of focus for different extracurriculars, but here’s a more compacted list on what you should join based on your interests. Note that this is a generic list, since the names of associations and groups vary throughout college campuses and not all opportunities are available on every university.
+ Academic or literature based: writing clubs, tutoring, research, honor society
+ Media: magazine/newspaper editing team, member of your school’s radio and/or TV station teams
+ Sports/fitness: sports teams (baseball, softball, volleyball, etc.), individual sports practices (tennis, archery, judo, etc.), dance teams, cheerleading
+ Community interaction: volunteer associations, leadership organizations
+ Art : art club, drama club, photography club
+ College focused: student councils, students associations per department or discipline (biology, chemistry, engineering, business, marketing, etc.).
+ Politics and culture: Debate clubs
+ Music: school band, choir
+ Others: internships, part-time jobs (example: work-study program)
- How do I join?
Once you have determined what you want to join, you have to start planning how you’re going to join them. Like it was previously stated, some of these groups or associations have requisites that their new members have to have if they want to be a part of them. Also, once you get in, you have to fulfill a certain role, depending on what you signed up for and what happens in the organization while you’re a member. Here’s a compilation of some things you have to consider before joining anything, as well as ideas on how to approach the coordinators and what to do once you’ve got in.
+ Before you join:
> Read about the club/group/activity you’re joining. Learn about their objectives, their mission as a collective, what they do exactly, etc.
> Make sure to know you have all the requirements needed to join. This specially applies to those interested in internships and research programs, since these type of activities often require more things, like letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, essays/personal statements, and others.
> Speak with people who are already in the organization or are part of it’s administration. Ask them about what they do, and what life is like as a member of that group.
> Be sure that you have enough free time to take part of any activities they may hold. Groups like these are looking for active members who engage with activities constantly, not people who barely show up. If you don’t have the time, don’t join and leave the spot for somebody that can.
+ Approaching to join
> Many colleges have fairs or specific days where clubs and associations promote themselves for new members to join them. Be on the lookout for those days.
> Keep up to date with your school’s official communication platforms and bulletin boards. They often also promote which groups are looking for participants in these areas.
> Locate the group’s ‘headquarters’ or where they usually hold their meetings and go over there personally to ask if there are openings.
> Contact the organization via phone, their official website or social media pages.
> Ask the student organizers or professors that are mentoring/collaborating with the association directly for an opportunity to join.
> Fill out their official application – if it applies in your case – and keep track of the respective deadlines to submit everything on time.
+ When you’ve already joined
> Actively participate in their events and meetings.
> Learn as much as you can.
> Network. Meet other people that can help you progress in your professional or personal interests, or simply, make friends who you can share experiences with.
> Be a part of the board or administration council.
> Locate people who can give you a letter of recommendation or can put in a good word for you in the occasion of needing a reference to put down in other applications.
> Have fun!
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