College is about a lot more than spending time attending class or studying. It’s also about more than partying and living the Animal House lifestyle, if you’re into that sort of thing. For the large swaths of free time you’ll have when you’re not doing any of those things, you should consider how important extracurricular activities can be to your college life. It’s a more interesting and productive use of your time, and it’s also great for both your future professional life and your current social life – much better than staying in your room, playing videogames and watching TV, for sure.
These activities can be pretty much anything: join an intramural sport, a jazz band, a comedy improv troupe, or student government, if it tickles your fancy. You likely won’t have time after college to pursue all your passions, so if you care about anything, your undergraduate career’s the best time to get involved. Plus, you’ll usually meet some awesome people through student groups, so it’s not like it’ll cut into your social life. Here are some other reasons why it’s worth getting involved:
Consider this: there’s a good chance that people who are successful today were involved in some student groups when they were in college. Maybe they were a part of your student group. It’s not a surefire bet that they’ll be willing to give you advice (or hire you), but it’s likelier that they’ll be happy to help you out if they “see themselves” in you.
Just as importantly, it’s a good chance that upperclassmen in these groups will have already established certain contacts that you might be able to use.
Case in point: The founders of Admissionado met in a musical group at Brown! After college they went their separate ways, but after a couple of years they decided to start this company, which is going great for them. Another example: a friend of mine got involved with Brown TV sophomore year and met a Senior who, after graduating, moved out to California to start his own independent production company. Last summer, my friend interned there and made a bunch of valuable contacts in the Bay Area film industry. Some day, your classmates will turn into valuable contacts themselves; isn’t it better, then, to reach out to students who will eventually go into similar fields as you?
Stand out from the crowd
Even if you don’t get any job opportunities directly from these experiences, extracurriculars are a great way to stand out from the crowd when you’re applying to jobs. It may not seem like getting involved in a stand-up comedy group in college will ever have any practical use, but it may be what tips the scale when an employer is choosing to hire you or someone else. You’re not a robot. You have passions. Let your resume show that.
Often, taking part in a student group enhances your educational experience. I have a friend – a Political Science major – who swears that he’s learned more from his involvement with political groups on campus and in the community than he has in the classroom. It can be a great complement to what you’re learning from your professors.
So when thinking about schools, take into account what school groups/activities they offer. It may seem like a pretty small thing to consider, but it may end up being the most important part of your life in college.