If there is one invaluable commodity in the life of a college student, many may think it’s money – the “broke college student” persona is, sadly, still far from just a stereotype. However, I have to argue that more so than money, there is one thing even more valuable which college students just never seem to have enough of – time. Between juggling course loads, often multiple jobs, family responsibilities, and the few glimpses of self-care moments one might try and remember to squeeze in, time is something a college student is constantly in need of more.
Given that, it seems a bit of a conundrum that one of the most valuable commodities that can be found within the college experience are student clubs and organizations. Nearly as valuable as the knowledge and skills gained from a student’s courses, the benefits of joining a student club can affect a student’s future in a variety of ways, for years beyond their college career. So how on earth can college students - who are already short on time - manage to take on another responsibility by joining a student club, and why should they even try? Let’s break it down – here are five reasons why getting involved and joining a student club could enhance not just your college experience, but your future, too, along with a few tips and tricks on how to make time for it.
It's not only easier than you think but also probably requires less time than you're imagining.
First and foremost, before we even get into the actual benefits of student clubs, let's clear something up - it's actually easier than ever to join and be active in a club right now than it's ever been before. Wonder why? Well, believe it or not, that's something we can actually thank COVID-19 for. The pandemic of the past couple of years forced many schools to rethink their entire approach to education and adapt it for remote participation. At Coastline, we're proud to say we had a bit of a leg-up on most others since we were already experts at online education with around 80% of our classes already being online. Now we've gone a step farther and introduced both remote and hybrid student club experiences. Our student clubs didn't let a little thing like a global pandemic get in their way - all club meetings moved online and even club events and activities went virtual. Currently, all clubs are continuing to meet online and have online events simply because it's proven easier for many to commit their time if they know they can just jump into a club meeting either from home or wherever they may be. As conditions allow and on-campus activities are able to resume, many clubs have held hybrid events that students can choose to attend either virtually or in person, such as Umoja's upcoming Paint Night Event to celebrate Black History Month. So now that we've cleared up that excuse and proven that it's easier than ever to join a Coastline club, let's get into the why's.
Get another layer of knowledge and skills beyond just your courses.
Many student clubs at Coastline are associated with different academic disciplines. For instance, Coastline’s Business Club was created by – shocker – a group of business students who wanted to come together and help each other prepare for the next steps on their paths to either entrepreneurship or entering the competitive world of corporate business. Business students who join the club can expect to receive assistance, advice, guidance, knowledge, and skills that go beyond what they’ll be studying in their courses. Also, by joining a club closely associated with what you’re already studying, chances are you can “double-dip” your time and apply much of what you learn in your courses to your club responsibilities or vice versa and use your experiences in the club in projects or assignments for your courses. So, if you think about it, an hour-long meeting for a club associated with your courses could almost be considered an hour of studying, which you would’ve been doing anyway.
A safe space and support network that has a unique understanding of the challenges you might be facing.
Student clubs bring together people who have a common interest in something – whether it be an academic discipline that you’re studying or a hobby you enjoy, chances are your clubmates are interested in and enjoy many of the same things you do. Another thing they may have is a common understanding of some of the challenges you might be facing in life. When joining clubs like Coastline’s Pre-Med club or Xploit Cybersecurity club, chances are many of your clubmates would have the same courses and professors, so they can completely understand why you’re stressing about a heavy course load or an upcoming exam and are most likely in the same boat as you. Students who join clubs like Coastline’s chapters of the Umoja Community or Student Veterans of America are usually part of the same culture, have been through many similar life experiences, possibly even come from similar backgrounds or have similar lifestyles, and most likely have faced or are facing similar challenges. Clubs/organizations like Umoja or SVOA are a safe space with a support network of others who have that unique understanding of what you’re possibly facing by being within that same culture and can provide valuable insight and assistance when you need it. Having a support system for trying times is important and one of those rare and few self-care moments that, in actuality, are some of the most important bits of time a college student needs.
Cultivate and hone skills that can’t be learned in a classroom.
While you can count on job postings listing a degree and knowledge of the aspects of your chosen career as requirements, some of the other desired skills that can pop up are ones that you can’t always depend on learning in a classroom. Skills like leadership, time management, collaboration, even problem-solving or flexibility are usually in high demand. While these skills can be touched on throughout a basic college career, one who enriches that career by participating in a club or student organization not only learns more about these skills but more often than not has to apply them to their daily life. Students who join an organization like Associated Student Government (ASG) will not only learn leadership skills but actively use them while carrying out their duties to the organization and Coastline. Students joining a club like Coastline’s Esports Club will discover a prime space to develop collaboration and teamwork skills during team esports competitions. Also, as mentioned before, the very act of joining a student club and adding those responsibilities to an already busy college schedule is the best way to learn and cultivate those incredibly valuable time management skills that employers are searching for.
Build a variety of relationships to carry with you after college, from friendships to mentorships and more.
As much as we hate to acknowledge it, a sad and challenging fact about the job market is that the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” advantage is still alive and well within many industries. While your college professors are undoubtedly an invaluable connection to make while working on your education, the potential connections from joining a student club are a treasure trove of networking and foot-in-the-door opportunities. Whether a club is academically or lifestyle-driven, either way, it can absolutely lead to a variety of career paths, and most (if not all) of the club’s activities are undoubtedly geared towards assisting its members on their paths to those careers. Within the club, new friendships can lead to potential professional connections down the road, and club advisors or guest speakers can be potential mentorships, providing those much-needed introductions, letters of recommendation, or references that will set you apart from other applicants. In some cases, guest speakers or consultants from club activities could even extend job opportunities to club members!
Get a serious confidence boost by being part of something special and/or looking back after graduating and seeing all you accomplished during your college career.
Not much can make a college student feel better than receiving an invitation or being eligible to join clubs like student honor societies. The boost to your confidence by knowing you’ve been successful enough to meet the vigorous educational requirements for organizations like Coastline’s chapters of the National Society of Leadership & Success (NSLS), the National English Honors Society, or the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is a valuable asset to help power you through the rest of your college career and beyond (not to mention the boost such memberships can provide to your resume, as well). The fact is, though, that no matter what kind of club you join, the opportunities to grow confidence in yourself and your abilities multiply exponentially with each club event you take part in over the semesters or years of your membership. After graduation and when you look back on your time at Coastline and all you have accomplished – not just in your courses, but as a club or student organization member as well – you’ll feel a sense of pride that can help make that first step to your next chapter in life just that much easier and less stressful to take.