Students often come to college with preconceived notions about student organizations. Movies don’t do a great job of showing how these organizations work, and – more often than not – students have unrealistic expectations about how much time they will have to devote to student life activities.
Each person’s level of involvement will differ based on their personality, course load, career goals, and other responsibilities. Some people can be involved in three or four different organizations and thrive while others struggle balancing one club with their classes.
The right answer to the question of “Should I join a student organization?” is (drumroll, please) … “It depends.” A lot of factors, not the least of which are your career interests, your goals and aspirations, your values, and how those sync up with the demands, benefits, values, and goals of the given organizations. Some of the answers which our outstanding faculty and staff have offered below are not in complete agreement with one another! That’s one of the things that makes them so good. It means you’re going to have to think and consider. But all the answers given below are based on wise experience, by HBU faculty and staff who have seen many thousands of students come in and out of college. I hope their advice, thought through carefully and prayerfully, will help you have a better college experience.
1. Should I join a student organization?
Clubs and organizations are an important part of the college experience. They can be fun and rewarding, and lifelong friendships are often forged within them. Just remember to keep a healthy balance with your other activities. – Dr. Curtis Henderson, College of Science and Mathematics
Be involved! College is a great time to find out where you belong in an organization. You will be part of groups for the rest of your life – at a job, as a parent, as a volunteer – whatever it may be, learning how to work with others and be a part of an organization is a very important skill. Additionally, clubs and organizations are a great place to meet friends and make great memories. Finally, they look great on your resume! Being a part of an organization shows your initiative to go above and beyond your typical classwork, and it shows your ability to handle multiple responsibilities. – Dr. Meredith O’Hara, College of Science and Mathematics
Being a part of clubs, organizations, and/or Greek Life are statistically proven to help in your collegiate career. Being a part of a group of like-minded people who are at the same stage of life as you is truly beneficial. Remember knowledge is gained not only in the classrooms, but also in the workings of clubs, organizations, and Greek Life experiences you partake in. – Mon’Sher Spencer, Student Life
Do not join a social type of organization that you do not feel is a good fit for you; don’t join just because someone is pressuring you to join. – Dr. Lesli Fridge, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Social clubs aren’t for everyone. You need to know if you get energy from social events or if it drains you. – Dr. Dawn Wilson, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
2. How do I decide which organizations to join?
Learn what organizations are available.
Visit the OrgFair the first week of the semester. If you are even slightly interested in joining, attend the meeting or mixer and get to know the student leaders. Some organizations are great for helping you in your career, some are great for service, or social endeavors so find the one or two for you. – Dr. Lisa Ellis, College of Science and Mathematics
Explore organizations that resonate with you.
This is a time to be adventurous! Try new things by joining a club or organization that sounds fun and may be completely new. Join the organizations where you feel welcome and connect to the other members because you want to be part of that organization, not because someone told you or expects you to join a specific organization. – Dr. Angie Durand, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
HBU offers many different organizations to meet a variety of interests. Join the one(s) that resonate the most with you. The more you put into them, the more you will get out of them! – Sarah Holland, University Events & Conferences
It is important to consider several different organizations. Find the ones that fit your interests. Get to know the other members and find where you can help the organization flourish. Spend your time there. – Dr. Jackie Horn, College of Science and Mathematics
Ask questions about the time and financial commitments.
Be careful not to overcommit to so many activities that you cannot fully immerse yourself in any one of them. – Dr. Katie Alaniz, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Student clubs and organizations can be a wonderful enhancement to your college experience, but you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Consider all of the things on your weekly schedule, and determine which extracurricular activities will serve you and others the best. Before making these decisions, ask lots of questions about what the commitment will entail (especially if it involves a leadership role), and commit it to prayer. – Dr. Kaye Busiek, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Do your research before joining any organization. Talk to the members. – Dr. Taiya Fabre, College of Science and Mathematics
Consider your career and personal goals.
I strongly recommend that students join any pre-professional organizations related to their field of study (pre-med, pre-dent, pre-law, etc) as soon as possible. They learn a lot from each other. – Dr. Avin Brownlee, College of Science and Mathematics
If you have already identified career goals, find a student organization that will give you the enriching experiences that will prepare you for professional life. Student organizations are also a good way for you to find your leadership style and learn to work productively with others. – Dr. Brenda Whaley, College of Science and Mathematics
Get involved with a spiritual organization first! – Dr. Lesli Fridge
3. When should I join a student organization?
Get involved quickly. Commit slowly and prayerfully.
Test the waters your first year at any institution and join a couple of organizations, go through recruitment weeks and see if Greek Life is for you, attend information meetings of clubs and societies to see if you find a fit. If all else fails, you will gain relationships with those you meet that will foster deep affinity to the university and aid in your success. – Mon’Sher Spencer
Get involved, but do not make any significant commitments without taking a semester to pray and deliberate about the best places to belong and give back. – Dr. Micah Snell, School of Humanities
Get involved in clubs or organizations your first semester so that you have time to find your perfect fit and take on leadership roles. The sooner you get involved, the more likely you can work into leadership roles later on, which will look great on resumes for post baccalaureate programs or finding a job. – Dr. Lisa Ellis
I would say wait a semester and decide what you really want to do, especially if you are a freshman. – Dr. Vickey Giles, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
Re-evaluate each semester, and put your academic success first.
Once you choose what to do, participate in them as long as you are able to keep up your academics. Remember, your grades are part of a permanent record about you…your involvement in social clubs is not. – Dr. Dawn Wilson
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Learn more about student activities and involvement at HBU here.