Dec 15, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

If getting into school wasn’t hard enough, you also have to make lots of decisions—good ones—that you’ll have to make once you get there.

In the flurry of considering which courses to take, which professors you need to meet, where to live, where to eat, and what you want to do with your life, you should add another question to your list:  Which student organization should you join?

It’s a good idea to find at least one that you’ll enjoy. You’ll learn a lot more about yourself—what you like, what you don’t like, and how you like to spend your non-academic time. You’ll also have a chance to flex your soft skills—communication, attitude, and work ethic are all important and a student organization is a great place to practice them.

Let’s take a closer look at some questions to ask yourself when figuring out which student organizations you should join:

1. Do you want to build a network and meet like-minded people?

Join an academic organization. They’re the most common and they set you up for success in a field you might want to pursue after you graduate.

Studying business? Join an entrepreneurship group. Interested in astronomy, but don’t have time to take a course in it? Find an aeronautics group and get involved—and maybe decide if you want to make some time for that course.

Like to write? Find an on-campus newspaper or literary magazine. Into music? Check out concert-groups in the music department.

Look for honor societies and academic clubs specific to your college or university, and pay attention to clubs with national or local chapters.

If you don’t have the grades to join an honor society, don’t worry—find an organization that focuses on your academic interest and figure out the best way you can get involved—even if it means just attending events.

2.  Do you want to volunteer?

Join a community service or charity organization.

Give back to the community where you attend school. The benefits? By making a positive connection to the people in your community, you not only inspire others, other inspire you—to do the right thing.

Do you have a cause that’s important to you? Environmental justice? Promoting healthy lifestyles? Working to end poverty?

If you want to give back and advocate for those of others, a community service or charity organization may be just the ticket for you—and you’ll be sure to work outside the confines of your campus too, and into your greater community.

3. Do you want to live your faith on campus?

Join a religious organization.

For students who want to keep in touch with their culture and faith can network with other students from similar backgrounds.

This may be important especially if you’re attending school far away from home and want a sense of family or belonging.

Many campuses also offer inter-faith groups, if you’re interested in learning about other religious groups and cultures. It’s an opportunity to embrace and learn more about your campus faith community, too.

4. Do you want to have fun?

Check out sports and recreation organizations.

Anything from club sports to pick-up games, outdoor activities, to board games, these organizations revolve around the idea of relaxing and recharging. Club sports aren’t limited to your traditional sports like soccer and basketball, either. You can join an Ultimate Frisbee team, crew, equestrian groups, cycling clubs, or even fencing.

If you like the great outdoors, consider a hiking club, rock-climbing, group, outing club, or even a caving club.

Want to put your dancing shoes on? Learn how to swing, contra, or hip-hop at any one of a number of amateur clubs.

The main point? Have fun. You deserve it.


Your takeaway? Find something you want to try and go for it. If you don’t like it, you can try something else. The key is to get out there and find something you enjoy.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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