How to navigate the Student Activities Fair

Whether you’re a brand new freshman itching to join something and get out of your room or a veteran wanting to get more involved on campus, attending the Student Activities Fair is the perfect way to find out more about the many clubs and organizations Truman State has to offer.

The fair can be overwhelming, full of tables with organizations eagerly calling students over to their tables, fighting for precious sign-ups from attendees. Worry not, because Laura Bates and Kayla Loper of the Center for Student Involvement are here to offer tips and tricks on how best to navigate the Student Activities Fair.

1. There isn’t a wrong way to approach the fair. — Kayla Loper, Program Advisor for Campus Activities
“There isn’t necessarily a wrong way to navigate the fair … If an organization has put the time and effort in to have a table, they want to answer your questions … If you don’t know what Globe Med is, or there’s a name that might be confusing, it’s not weird to ask them. Ask questions so you get the most information. Even if it isn’t an organization you can join right now, make sure you talk to them to see if there are [requirements].

2. If there’s a group you’re curious about, now’s the time to talk to them. — Loper
“If there are groups that you’ve heard of, seek those out. Go to the CSI table if you can’t find them. They’re sorted by category. If you know you want to join a club team, but aren’t sure which one, they’re all lumped together … Know what your interests are and look around.”

3. Use this as an opportunity to know what Truman has to offer. — Loper

“There are over 200 organizations and lots of ways to get involved. Commit to one or commit to 10 and see what [those organizations are about] and maybe [students] will extend themselves more as they know what’s out there.”

4. Follow — I mean pursue — through. — Loper
“Try a couple of them out, check out their meetings, see what the recruitment processes are. Even if the first one you sign up for isn’t the best one for you, see what it’s about, and you’ll find something that’s the perfect fit.”

5. Expect to be overwhelmed. — Laura Bates, Director of the Center for Student Involvement
“People need to expect there’s going to be a lot of options … Campuses double our size don’t have the number of organizations that we have, so we are kind of unique in that.”

6. Do your homework. — Bates
“If people want to do their research before, I would encourage them to check out the [organization] . That [includes] any organization that is active and in good standing with the University … People could check out the categories and look for organizations they might be interested in talking to. If they’re not interested in talking to every [organization], that might help them narrow down some very specific focus groups to come and look at.”

7. Choose quality over quantity. — Bates
“Quality over quantity is definitely the top priority. Not weeding down your organizations is probably one of the biggest pitfalls that [students] do. [Some students] stay on as a senior in groups that they’ve never gone to anything for.”

8. If a group isn’t at the fair, don’t be afraid to seek them out. — Bates
“People get really frustrated when a group they want to meet isn’t there … Not everyone can take [a table]. Maybe membership isn’t there, maybe no one’s there to work [the table], maybe it’s a group that has some requirements so being at the fair isn’t the best place for them to do recruitment. It doesn’t mean you can’t seek them out.”

9. Don’t be afraid to say no to groups you don’t want to be involved in. — Bates
“As a first year student, or a new student in general, sign up for things. You may not really know yet if you want to [join an organization], but the challenge that people don’t want to overcome is telling a group that you don’t want to be on their mailing list. People are afraid that’s going to hurt folks’ feelings.”

10. Utilize the fair itself. — Bates
“A lot of people come in like, ‘Oh, I want to look at Greek,’ or, ‘Oh, I want to only look for service opportunities,’ and they don’t really take advantage of what else is out there.”

11. Balance fun activities with professional activities. — Bates
“I want people to think professional versus fun. Our top area of involvement according to our assessments is academic [and] professional, which is really cool for us to see. To us, students are making a connection between what they can do here and what they are looking to do post-Truman. Some of those organizations are going to be fun. Like, they’re going to be people’s outlets. For other people, they might want, or need, other outlets for fun. So make sure that you’re having a balance between business and fun.”