Most students go to college to learn. Most know, or at least soon discover, that their academic work at college will be different than the work that they did in high school. They are expected to spend more time studying and there is a higher level of thinking demanded. But the college years are also about other kinds of learning. Often much of this other learning happens outside of the classroom. College offers students opportunities to pursue old interests and to discover new interests. Unfortunately, too many college students pass up some of the opportunities that they have in college because they are too focused on either their academic life or their party life. Many worry that getting involved in activities or organizations on campus will distract them from their academic pursuits rather than enhance their academics.
Your college student is learning to find her own path during college. She will need to make her own choices. But as a college parent, you can encourage your student to take advantage of the many opportunities available on campus. Help her think about the benefits of getting involved in groups and activities that the college offers. Here are a few things to suggest that she consider.
- Getting involved in groups that share common interests, or attending activities offered by the college can be fun. It’s as simple as that. He will have a good time and enjoy himself. Everyone needs a break to have some fun once in a while.
- Getting involved will give your student the opportunity to meet new people. College is about making new friends, understanding different perspectives, and meeting different kinds of people. Getting involved in campus activities gives your student the chance to meet people and diversify her contacts beyond the circle of people she will encounter in her residence hall or classes.
- Colleges offer opportunities, often at little or no cost, that he may not encounter easily again. Major performers come to campuses. Discount tickets to performances and athletic events in nearby communities are sometimes available. World renowned speakers visit campus to give addresses or conduct workshops.
- Your student may have the opportunity to feed a new interest. She can explore an area that she’s thought about but not been involved in before. She may discover hidden talents or new passions.
- Your student may have the opportunity to connect with the college in a new and different way. She may begin to feel more a part of either the college community or the wider community. She will increase her sense of loyalty and identity as a member of the college.
- Your student may discover a new career path by participating in clubs or organizations that will lead her in new directions.
- Being involved in some groups may be a resume builder. Although this certainly shouldn’t be the primary reason for joining a group or participating in an activity, it may be something that she should add to her resume.
- Your student will learn to deal with all kinds of people. She will not only meet and spend time with other types of students, her activities may place her in closer contact with faculty members, administrators, or members of the outside community.
- Your student may have opportunities to increase his self-esteem and develop his leadership qualities. He may be surprised to discover new things about himself as he becomes involved in helping a group function.
- Several studies have shown that students who are active in campus activities, who do more than focus solely on their studies, are more engaged in the campus community and succeed more academically. Other studies suggest that more engaged students stay at their institution and won’t feel the need to transfer. Although some students fear that being involved will hurt their academics, it may actually help their studies.
Being involved in the things happening at the college can bring tremendous benefits to your college student. However, as with so many things during these college years, it is important that your student find balance. Participating in some groups at school, and attending activities on campus are important for your student’s well-being. But being involved in everything, allowing activities to distract from studies or interfere with a focus on what he wants from life, can be dangerous. Your student will need to ask — ”How much is enough?” and ”How much is too much?” Your student will need to find the appropriate and comfortable level of involvement for him.