5 Reasons for Getting Involved in College—And How to Go About It

Much of college learning happens outside the classroom, so make sure to take advantage.

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There's more to the college experience than the classroom. College campuses offer endless opportunities to get involved as well.

JULIE: Lindsey will tell you that her dad and I encourage involvement. Here are five reasons why we encourage it:

1. It allows students to become connected to their school: Colleges are full of resources, but the responsibility is on the student to seek them out. Being involved helps them to do that.

2. It helps them build community: Since they're leaving their family and sometimes their friends behind, getting involved helps them discover new friends with similar interests.

3. It allows them to discover their passions and strengths: These will follow them all through life. It allows them to discover what they don't like, too.

4. It's a résumé builder: Freshman year is not too soon to begin thinking about positioning yourself for future employment.

[Read why you shouldn't settle when choosing an internship.]

5. Sometimes, busier kids do better in all areas: This will vary a lot by the student, of course, but more free time does not always equal better grades. Being involved will require some organization and time management on the part of the student—and that's a good thing.

[Use these three free websites to help balance free time and school work.]

LINDSEY: Ever since the eighth grade, I've heard from teachers, counselors, and my parents about the importance of getting involved. My activities in high school helped me to meet like-minded people, made me more responsible, and earned me some great college scholarships as well.

[Find out how your extracurricular activities can earn you scholarships.]

Finding activities that you're passionate about is just as important in college as it was in high school. Since starting college a year ago, I've become involved with my sorority, a campus tour organization called Student Ambassadors, and the campus television station. These have been some of my most rewarding experiences since coming to college and have allowed me to meet some amazing people.

Finding your niche on campus, however, can be much easier said than done. Here's what I've learned so far about some of the best ways to get involved:

1. Utilize your school's resources: Whether it is housed in an office or online, most universities have some sort of involvement center that lists every campus organization and gives information on how to get involved. Some even offer quizzes to help determine which activities fit your areas of interest.

2. Try everything at least once: You may not like every organization that you consider, so keep an open mind! Go outside of your comfort zone when looking for groups to join; oftentimes these are the most rewarding experiences. You may not think you'll enjoy the ballroom dance club or the engineering society, but one of the best things about college is having the opportunity to try new things.

[Experts offer advice on finding the right extracurricular activities for you.]

3. Realize that being involved is an ongoing process: Involvement on campus shouldn't be solely restricted to permanent positions or groups. Be on the lookout for temporary activities too, like service projects or campus event planning. Find out if there is an involvement or community service newsletter that you can subscribe to in order to stay up to date on the latest opportunities.