Student life is very busy. It can be overwhelming to balance coursework, family, work, self-care, and other commitments. However, there are activities that can have a substantial positive effect not only on your overall quality of life but also on your ability to succeed in school and beyond.The time spent on involvement in a student organization can be viewed as a long-term investment in yourself with substantial immediate benefits as well. Click To Tweet
Participation in student organizations and clubs is extremely beneficial both in the short- and in the long-run. Research has supported the idea that students who are engaged with their college community are more likely to complete their degrees and find desired employment.
In this article, I list 7 major benefits of participating in academic or non-academic student organizations. Consider these benefits of joining a student organization while getting your degree. Then research opportunities available on your campus and choose an organization that will support you in achieving your personal, academic, and career objectives.
1. Maturity and Personal Development
Research shows that students who are involved in student organizations have a higher level of personal development. In a 2006 study of 307 students, it was found that they tend to be better at establishing and clarifying purpose, career planning, and life management. They are more involved in education and cultural participation. These skills are critical for your success in college and beyond.
Another study of 286 students reports that many students who participate in non-academic organizations mentioned that these organizations helped them to achieve their personal goals. I like this article because it cites student responses that reflect their own views on the benefits of participating in student organizations.
For example, a sophomore general studies major was “looking for an organization that provided a chance for community service” while a junior engineering major commented that nonacademic organizations “make you a rounder person – perhaps more so than organizations sponsored by your college or department, as they show that you are interested in more than just engineering.”
2. Making New Friends
Meeting new people and forming friendships enriches your life. The benefits of making friends include mutual support in achieving your goals, exchange of helpful knowledge, and learning to communicate with different types of people.
3. Fun and Enjoyment from Organization Activities
While many students are participating in student organizations to improve leadership, communication or speaking skills, others stay involved in organizations just because of the enjoyment it gave them. Several participants in the above-mentioned study explained why they benefited specifically from non-academic organizations.
For instance, a senior agriculture major said: “Student organizations not sponsored by my college give me something to be passionate about besides my main academic concentration.” Another participant, a sophomore business major shared this advice: “I think you also need to be in organizations that aren‘t for your major. It‘s a way to network, make friends that aren‘t like the friends in all of your classes. It‘s really just something fun to do!”
4. Career Development and Networking
Students who participate in academic organizations often join them for career development, networking opportunities, academic opportunities, and personal development. Students mentioned their interest in learning more about their field of study, building their resumes, connecting with students in their major, learning more about advanced degrees, and building their personal skills.
A freshman business major reported, “It will look good on my resume when I am looking for jobs” while a junior education major student explained that her organization has “interesting guest speakers come talk about their experiences.”
5. Knowledge of Your Field of Study
Students who participate in academic organizations mention the field of knowledge they were gaining as a result of their involvement. For example, a freshman science major, said “Speakers give us a first-hand look at their own experience as a doctor, dentist, or student in professional school.” Another student, a senior engineering major, said he now had “a better understanding of the cultures of the businesses that I will be involved with in the future.”
6. Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication skills cited by academic and nonacademic organization participants as a major benefit of being involved. For example, a junior business major said she now enjoys “approaching new people and making conversation” as a direct result of her involvement.
7. Specific Skills
The same study reveals that involvement in nonacademic organizations helps students develop specific skills. Students who were surveyed mentioned leadership skills, general business skills, job specific skills, and learning more about service to others. In terms of leadership and business skills, students cited personal responsibility, time management, and “the importance of deadlines when other people are relying on you” (sophomore liberal arts major).
Another student, a sophomore agriculture major, said she learned how to generate “my own ideas instead of mimicking a teacher” while a freshman business major explained that she learned the “importance of giving back to your community.”
As you can see, these benefits interact and enhance each other. Many of the skills you learn at a student organization are soft skills that are found to be crucial for career success. In his article in Forbes “6 Soft Skills That Guarantee Your Success”, Alex McClafferty describes 6 soft skills that helped him to become a successful entrepreneur. His list of key soft skills includes empathy, negotiation, public speaking, relationship building, leadership, and time management skills. You can start polishing many of these skills while still completing your degree by becoming a part of a student organization.