Choosing Campus Organizations: Major/Career Path-Oriented or Hobby-Focused?

By Danielle Wirsansky on December 6, 2018

Being involved in extracurricular activities is very important while you are in college. While of course, you have your actual schooling to keep up with, homework to do, and regular work to keep yourself financially afloat, your extracurricular activities are what make you individual and unique. They help shape you to be the person you want to be. Instead of being just a person with a degree, you are a person with your own set of skills and abilities that are unique to you and that make what you bring along with your degree unique as well.

But what kind of extracurricular activities should you be doing? Should you belong to organizations that are affiliated with your major and career path? Or should you belong to organizations that intersect with your hobbies? What is going to help you the most in the long run?

Of course, this has a complicated answer that is unique to each and every student’s experience. There is no one absolute answer that will fit each student as though it came from a cookie cutter. Each student has a different experience behind them and different goals and expectations for what they want to do with their lives and how. So how do you know? How do you make the right choices for you?

Start at the beginning.

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The first thing that should be settled is that extracurricular activities all around are important and you should definitely participate in them. It can be hard with everything else going on in your college experience, but they are both crucial and necessary. This is regardless of whether the extracurricular activity is tied to your major or simply something you are interested in doing.

Did you know that 70% of CEOs held at least one office in a club or organization during college? That is an incredibly impressive amount. And if you follow this path, who’s to say that you could not be counted among this number one day, if that was your ambition? This statistic, provided by eLearning Infographics, does not specify what kind of organization that these CEOs participated in. This was cumulative, including both career or major-related organizations and organizations that were just for personal interests. This just goes to show that it is doing something at all, rather than something in particular, that is most important of all.

California State University, Sacramento also conducted a study from 2002-2007 that support this claim. Their research indicated that “… over the course of four terms, students involved in extracurricular activities consistently outperformed students not involved in extracurricular activities.” There was no differentiation between the type of extracurricular a student was involved in. Their findings just cement that the simple act of participating in any kind of extracurricular at all was beneficial in and of itself to a student.

Additionally, the National Center for Education Statistics found that participation in extracurricular activities had a positive correlation to students’ GPA, attendance, test scores, and expected educational goals.

So, while it is clear that you should participate in an extracurricular activity, now how do you decide which ones? Do you participate in something with a clear tie to the career path you want to take? Or do you do something related to your personal passion?

Obviously, getting involved with organizations related to your major or future career will be beneficial to you. You can experience more of what being in that industry will be like, which could help you figure out if your major is the right fit for you or not. You will make connections with others that will also be going into your industry and allow you to network in a meaningful way. You can also get experience in your field that may help you to get a job in that field after you graduate.

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Yet feeding your soul is incredibly important, especially during college when you are still discovering yourself and are working so hard, as you do not want to burn out. If singing helps you to de-stress and is something you love to do, even if you do not want to be a professional singer, for example, then participating in a singing group is still going to positively benefit you, even if it’s not necessarily a benefit to your career.

Hopefully, your passions are related to the career path you have chosen and you are not embarking on a job path that you will not truly enjoy. When your passions and your career paths overlap, it can be easier to allow yourself to partake in extracurriculars that are less traditional to your major but no less interesting to you. If you love to act, but want to be a lawyer, you can justify acting because of the skills it brings you that are important in the law career you want to have, such as public speaking, articulation, timing, and more.

Finding a way to balance your schedule so that you can fit both kinds of organizations into your schedule is the best way to go. Just find the path that fits best for you!

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