Finding Family in a Big School: Strategic Club Involvement

Let's face it. We're not in high school anymore.

Gone are the days when you feel the necessary need to be a part of as many clubs as your time allows you, being a leader in as many of those clubs as you can, just to fill in your resume. As cliched as this may sound, college is a time in which you find yourself, and you certainly don't find yourself by joining a million clubs that would label you one way or another, sometimes even in a conflicting manner. On another extreme note, though, clubs are still an integral part of finding yourself as they help you explore your passions -- so don't completely check off extracurriculars off your to-do list just yet.

Especially in a big school, identity is important. It defines who you are, who your friends are, and what role you will play in the institution you are in. I know that in UC Berkeley, hundreds of clubs table and give out fliers in the heart of campus to promote their organization and gain recruits. It feels like there are countless organizations that seemingly aim for similar yet minutely-different purposes.

You feel the urge to join all of them, but all of them require applications and most would put new recruits under a lengthy recruitment process -- and none of those guarantee admission to the club. It's a dilemma. Should you invest your time courting only a couple clubs only to have them reject you after applications, or should you go the non-committal path to clubs and statistically be guaranteed a spot in at least one of the clubs you applied to?

I say, go the non-committal path...*

*...before you officially devote your time to your select clubs.

In planning for activities that you plan to do this semester, I suggest going through an analysis of your 15-week period. Take note of all your classes, all your discussion sections, and all your exams. It may also be of great help to take special note of the more difficult classes you will be taking as well. Next, make a list of clubs that interest you, and check them out. This can be relevant to your major, or it may not -- just as long as you are interested in it. Afterwards, in the first few weeks, go to as many club info-sessions as you can, and apply to as many clubs in your list. If it's an intramural sports club, go to try-outs and/or practice sessions.

Next step: you wait.

Wait until the clubs contact you back for an interview, or even better, an acceptance letter; you may want to make a list of the clubs that have accepted you too. Then, look at your schedule again. Set times during the week for you to do your studying and homework, as well as free time. Afterwards, see which clubs fit your schedule and which does not; see which clubs are most beneficial to you, and which are not as career-benefitting; in essence, make priorities. Note that this process may be more tedious if you are also interested in being involved in research, internships, or work-study as well.

And there you have it! I went about finding a community in a large university in this manner; and so far it has been quite effective. Exploring a lot of clubs and applying to many will alleviate the worry of not getting into the organization you really wanted to get into, becoming too attached to a club that would probably reject you, or even the worry of having any extra-curriculars at all during that particular semester -- intuitively, you are more likely to be accepted to at least one club in this manner.

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