Organizations are a great thing in college but can be very intimidating. Entering your freshman year and within the first month going to a massive Org Fair with possibly hundreds of tables run by students trying to recruit for their organization. There seems to be an organization for just about everything, especially at large schools. Finding out what to do, what you have time for, where to focus your energy can be a difficult task.
My freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, the organizations fair was an overwhelming experience. I was involved in tons of organizations in high school. Some of them I wanted to continue, others not as much. I had no direction. There was a lot of free stuff and I had all intentions of getting my hands on as much as possible. I signed up for maybe 20 organizations which flooded my email. The ones I wanted to do most were club water polo, round net, debate team, aeronautics team and radio. By the end of the first week of meetings the only thing I was still doing was water polo, I didn’t have time for anything else. I ended up quitting to play club baseball instead. Club sport was 5 times a week and we weren’t even in season. The debate team practices were during class and the rest of the organizations got lost in the shuffle. From my experience, large school organizations take up a lot of time so you have to be a little more direct with what you want to do, and what you have time for. This should not stop anyone from trying to do whatever they want; organizations are a great way to make friends with similar interests as you.
My experience with organizations at Emerson College has been much different since I transferred. The school has much more niche majors and the organizations reflect this. There are still a lot of tables at the org fairs, but it is much easier to find the things you want to do. They are very practically based off the things people go to school for. There are also interest and entertainment based clubs like anime, video games, etc. I joined a bunch of student run publications as a journalism major. I wrote for a magazine, newspaper, and joined another magazine’s editorial team. I also found clubs like music videos, screenwriting and unique film criticism. All of these clubs related to things the students do in their classes, as well as what they want to do in their careers. It helps you build a portfolio, get experience, and work with other students in the same path as you. You can also get a little taste of what working in that field will be like to an extent and this can help you find your focus. Personally for me, I didn’t know I accidentally applied for the editorial team on one student magazine and since joining I refined my desired career path because of it.
From my experience, getting involved in different organizations is definitely a good idea. I know tons of people as well that have met some of their closest friends in these organizations. It can also be a nice change of pace from your other friends, to have a group of friends that share one specific interest with you. Obviously making sure you have time for your school work and are not overloading yourself is important. These organizations can also be a great place to find people who share a specific cultural identity with you. I remember when I first arrived on campus I was intrigued to find we have a society for Hispanic journalists.
With so many options it can seem a little overwhelming, especially if you do not have a focus on what kind of organization you want to join or how much time you will have. My advice would be to try and get involved in something outside of a purely social setting. Also it is never too late to get involved even if you missed out your first semester or year. Most schools also have an organizations list somewhere posted so that you can go get information with a purpose at these events.