Getting involved on campus is a great way to find your comfort zone in this new, daunting environment. For many first generation college students (or any student, for that matter), finding that comfort zone is often the difference between those who stay enrolled and those who decide to drop out. It may feel intimidating to seek out opportunities on campus, but engaging in extracurricular activities has many benefits:
Meet new people
One of the ways to feel comfortable in your new surroundings is to find people who share similar interests. Outside of seeing the same people in your academic classes, extracurriculars offer another way to meet people who enjoy the same activities. Finding common interests can be a way to start a lifelong friendship.
Explore your interests
Learn about new cultures, hobbies, athletics, or other areas you’ve always been curious about. Because of the diversity on college campuses, the range of groups and activities is often much broader than what most people are exposed to in their high schools or communities. Take advantage of this range of offerings by diving into something new.
Boost your resume; gain new skills/knowledge
Employers want well-rounded students who not only excel inside the classroom, but also make the most of their time outside of class. One way to think of your college experience is as four (or more) years of resume building. The activities that you participate in while enrolled can offer unique learning experiences which can turn into lively conversation during an interview.
Build your network
Improve your chances of getting a job in the future by participating in leadership roles and through networking. The diversity of people who move around and through a college campus is extraordinary, and each one is a potential contact who might help your career. Your fellow students, professors, school administrators, and visiting speakers who become a part of your network will all be valuable to you.
Give back by volunteering off-campus
Many extracurricular activities allow you to enhance your college campus and surrounding community. Colleges often have a strong culture of volunteerism that not only connects people on the campus, but also allows you to make a broader impact on the town or city where the campus is situated. From mentoring opportunities, to fundraisers, to service-based spring breaks, there are many ways to help others and have fun at the same time.
Take the time to visit a variety of on-campus clubs and organizations and attend a meeting or two. If the people and club seem like a good fit, then get more involved. If it doesn’t, then try another group. Keep searching until you find something that feels right. And if you can’t find anything that seems perfect, consider starting your own. There is probably someone else on your campus who feels the same way as you.