How Do You Know If A Campus Club Is Right for You?

By Danielle Wirsansky on September 21, 2018

The fall is an exciting time! One of the most exciting parts of fall is that it means that college is about to be in session again (unless you had summer classes, in which case you have our deepest condolences). Sure, it is great to have a break from classes, and sure, it was probably nice to see your parents and your dogs again, and maybe you like sleeping in your own bed and not a lumpy dorm bed. But what is really exciting is going to football games, hanging out with friends, cultivating your passions, and learning (well, maybe not so much the learning).

The cultivating your passions aspect is an incredibly important part of your college experience. The classes you take and the major you choose are both incredibly important for preparing you for your future, but so are your extracurriculars! They can make or break your college experience, whether it be developing your skills more so that you can get a job in your preferred field or simply a chance to do something that you personally love to do so that you can blow off steam.

How do most people get involved in extracurriculars? They do so by joining campus clubs. Almost every college student belongs to at least one campus club or another during their college experience. But every college and university has dozens, if not hundred of campus clubs or organizations. How can you ever know which one is the right fit for you? Read on to learn some tips and tactics you can try to help and determine if a campus club is the right fit for you!

Photo by from Pexels

Decide What You Want Out Of Them

The first thing you need to decide (or at least have an idea of) is what you want to get out of this campus club. Do you want to do this for fun and to blow off steam, maybe make some friends who are interested in the same topic as you? Or are you looking for a development opportunity, some kind of organization that will polish your skills and help you get ahead in a career field you are interested in?

Your mindset will be incredibly important in deciding if a campus club is the right fit for you or not. If you are looking for something serious, you might not want an organization that is very lax. Maybe they do not meet as often as you would like. Maybe they do not present themselves professionally. Or perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum, and you do not want a serious opportunity. You just want to have fun sometimes. If so, a club that takes itself seriously, expects attendance and full participation, and hosts many events might frustrate you and turn you off to participating. Again, this club might not be the right fit for you then.

If you are still not sure what the difference might be, take this for an example.

There are two acapella groups on your campus that you could join. One is a very serious acapella group that meets three times a week, has its members pay dues, has gigs and performances every weekend, and even travels out of state for conferences. Many of its members are music majors who want to be music performers or educators after graduation.

The other organization is very relaxed. They meet maybe once a week, and it is cool if you miss some of the meetings. You do not pay any dues and your group performs once, maybe twice a semester. Almost none of the members are music majors, just people who love to sing when they have a moment.

Now think about you. You love to sing, but it is not what you want to do with your life. It is something you simply want to do for fun when you have time between homework assignments and you might not be able to go every week. Which is the right organization for you?

Or maybe all you have ever wanted to do with your life is be a professional singer. You have been training your whole life to do that. Taking music classes and being a music major is not enough, you want to sing more than that. You want all the opportunities you can get your hands on. You want to perform as much as you can, rehearse as much as you can, and surround yourself with like minded people. Which organization is the right one for you?

No person or organization ever falls exactly that neatly into categories. But this can give you an idea or help to open your eyes to how different campus organizations that purportedly do the same things can be, and how it can make or break your experience with a group based on what you hope to get out of being involved. You do not want to have a bad experience with an organization because you did not understand how they operated or what you hoped to gain from it. Avoid all the hassle by looking within yourself and ascertaining what you want early on.

Infographic by Danielle Wirsansky

So you have an idea of what you want to get out of a campus club, but how do you know what this organization has to offer? You want a serious club, or a not-serious club: how do you know if an organization fits the bill?

A good place to start is to check out their social media. Most campus clubs are active on social media nowadays. Check their Facebook pages, their Instagrams, their twitters, even their snapchats. These platforms will give you an indication of the kind of stuff that the club does, how active they are, the quality or level of the activities that the club engages in.

Do they not post at all or ever update their information? Maybe they are not the most professional and organized group that you could join. Heck, they may not even be active any longer!

Do they only post silly things like related memes or pictures of their club members partaking in silly activities, rather than showcasing what the organization does for professional development?

Whatever you are looking for, checking out social media platforms is a good first step into deciding which campus club might be right for you.

Look At Past Events

Another tactic you can try out to see if a campus club is the right fit for you is to look at the past events that they have held. Have they ever even held events?

Do they just hold events without having a weekly meeting? Perhaps you like structure and getting to know your fellow club members. You want to develop a deeper relationship. So, you are probably looking for a club that meets more often outside of whatever bigger events they hold.

But maybe you are more interested in the big picture and the big events. You do not have time to meet every week, you really just want to get down to the nitty-gritty and do the big events, because those are the kinds of things that are most important for you. This means you probably do not want to go to a club that holds a weekly meeting and expects you to attend.

If we think back to the acapella group example, frame your line of questioning this way: does this organization have gigs every weekend and lots of gigs booked that they expect their members to be at? Do they host several concerts a semester or go on tour? Perhaps they even perform at exotic locations? This might be wayyyyy too much of a time commitment for you and be something you are not at all interested in doing. On the other hand, it might be exactly what you are looking for to develop your voice and get you experience.

Or the acapella club only rehearses once a week, they sing at a concert once a semester, and that is kind of it, that might be a better fit for you. That is all you really wanted from it. Or it could really distress you and not be enough to feed your soul—When you know what you want from a club and can then look at what they can provide you in regard to that, you will be much better able to find the right fit.

Talk To Past Members

Another great way to learn if a campus club is the right fit for you is to talk to someone who has been in the club and knows what being in the club is like! Maybe you are not really sure what the group focuses on. Maybe you cannot tell how much of a commitment will be required of you if you want to join. Are there member dues? Is attendance mandatory? You want the inside scoop before you officially join so that you do not have to go through a “break up” with a campus club when you have realized too late that it is not the right fit for you and have to back out of your commitment to be a member. That is not an awesome situation for you or the organization and can cause resentment on both sides, so it is something to be avoided.

Talking to an officer is a good idea because they will know the best what the organization will be up to and what might be expected of you as a potential member. But you should also speak to regular level members or even past members too, because officers will have the best, most optimistic outlook on the organization and might not see (or mention) the more negative aspects. A current or past member might be able to give you a clearer insight, like why a current member stays and what they enjoy most about the group. Or a past member might be able to explain why they ended up parting ways with an organization too. Just keep in mind that these members could be biased too, so you always have to take the information you get with a grain of salt. Who knew finding the right campus club for you would be such an arduous task?

Photo by from Pexels

Go To An Informational Meeting

Okay, so you have done all the steps listed out before this and you still are not sure if an organization is the right fit for you. Or maybe you have not been able to try all the tactics that have been suggested (it is so hard to track down those pesky members!), so you still are not sure if this campus club is right for you. So the next step to try is to attend an informational meeting.

Most campus clubs, especially at the beginning of the semester, will have some kind of interest or general body meeting for members and prospective members alike to learn about what the organization is about, what their plans are for the semester, and what they will require of you as a member. Some organizations will even have some kind of interest meeting for each major project that they host to see if you might be interested in participating or have the room in your schedule to do so. Each organization is different.

So, make the effort to go in person, talk to the campus club officers, and fellow members to see what you think. What vibe do you get from the others involved in the organization? Does the organization match the information you got from all your sleuthing? When confronted with an organization’s goals for the semester, do they still align with what you were interested in doing? Was what you wanted from these organizations accurate from what you initially thought?

Try all these steps out and help yourself out in figuring out if an organization meshes well with what you are interested in. Only then will you know if a campus club is right for you.

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