Freshman year was a busy time for me. On top of adjusting to life as a college student, I had joined the anime club, a Dungeons and Dragons group a friend had started and I was branching into working at the Truman Media Network. That next year I would find myself at club tennis, swing dancing, the fighting game club and even working on copy desk here at The Index. I don’t really do much of those things anymore, mostly due to time constraints or conflicts in scheduling, but it’s safe to say that having been in these clubs has changed my entire college experience.
While many of my friends were made through living in West Campus Suites or being in Cantoria — a performance choir on campus — it was these clubs and groups that really forced me to broaden my horizons. The important one for incoming freshman is how I really got to know the people around me. Meeting new people is a given — after all, that’s one of the biggest reasons people join clubs. And when you meet someone through a club, you know you’ll have something in common already.
But just as important was how I grew closer to the friends I already had. I usually went with someone I already knew, in case I didn’t have fun. And while we were friends before, these clubs were often something I didn’t know we had in common before. I knew nothing about my friend Andy’s background in tennis before we tried out club tennis, but when I learned it became a common topic for us.
One thing you probably haven’t thought about, though, is how a club can expand your skills and interests. While I had passing interests in tennis and dancing, I was never any good at either before joining. In fact, my backhand was horrible until I started going to club tennis. Then I improved it so much that I now use a two-handed forehand to make it more like my backhand. Or with dancing, while I may not know the steps very well anymore, the knowledge that I am capable of it really changed my perspective of things.
With non-club-oriented groups, you may find that the focus is more on this second option. TMN as a whole is focused on student learning, as we are an educational organization, and it has really helped to give me perspective on how the journalistic process works. I even got involved with parts of the process I never thought I’d be involved in by working on copy desk and now working as the assistant copy chief.
Honestly the only negative part of being in a club for me was not always feeling like part of the group. Clubs often have their own methods of including new members, as this can be a common issue. After all, they spend a lot of time with these people to talk about this interest. But if you’re really interested in a topic, just know this is going to be a hurdle in the early stages of joining an organization.
There’s also the fact that many clubs require a lot of time and commitment. As I mentioned earlier, my time in many of these clubs or groups was limited by other commitments. While I obviously still work at The Index, my time here conflicted with tennis practice and with one of the swing dance groups on campus. I still play DnD, though, because we’re flexible about when we hold it. But if I were to restart tennis or dancing, I’d be starting from square one again, or at least close to it.
Still, I wouldn’t trade my time in these groups for anything. It’s worth the connections to other people alone, but the fact that I can still learn and improve just makes it invaluable. Plus, even if it’s not related to another area, many clubs can be great resume builders. Something like swing dancing teaches you teamwork, listening skills, coordination and the importance of dedication.
Or you could just do it because it’s fun. There’s nothing wrong with that.