Getting Involved is More Difficult Than It Seems

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“So honored and excited to be a part of my new club, _____!” College students are infamous for this status/tweet. Underneath it all, however, involvement opportunities actually aren’t for everyone.

Some may find a club that suits them, but perhaps it’s not their initial “top choice.” Even still, it’s not easy studying full time and being involved in different organizations. From exams to weekly meetings and other time commitments, college students always find themselves searching for more hours in the day. Think twice before deciding what to join, when to join and how many different clubs you think you can juggle.

1. The “right” club can be hard to find

Between greek life, philanthropic organizations, intramural sports and many more, the variety of organizations to participate in can be overwhelming. At the start of each semester, current members of clubs bombard passersby with flyers, trying to persuade them to join or visit countless information sessions. Finding the right niche can be challenging and take time. Will you stick with the same activities you were involved with in high school or branch out and try something new? It’s a tough choice.

2. Involvement in more than one club isn’t always the answer

Imagine trying to devote 10-15 hours per week to studying on top of club meetings every day of the week — close to impossible. People think that involvement in five or six different clubs will be the best decision they’ve ever made. It will actually be one of the most challenging. Constantly rushing from one side of campus to the other with ten minutes in between each commitment is not enjoyable in the least bit (aside from your now toned calves).

3. Competition and defeat is a strong possibility

For larger philanthropic or service clubs, membership is usually open to almost anyone. For some academic, sports and arts-related clubs, however, prepare for applications or tryout processes. There could be 100 other people auditioning for the same position as you. Because many clubs are student-run, politics get in the way. Even though you may be more qualified, there’s a slim chance you’ll be picked over the girl who is best friends with the president of the dance team.

4. Time management can be difficult to develop

Even if you decide to limit your involvement to one or two clubs, trying to find time to study, attend meetings and actually sleep for more than five hours is a constant battle. If you don’t plan out your days and take advantage of free time in between classes or club meetings, you’ll find yourself up until 4 a.m. studying for the next day’s exam (and probably won’t do well). Remember when you thought if you just “got through this week,” everything would be better next week? You’ll find yourself saying that almost every week if you don’t prioritize.

5. Free time in college is still a necessity

Aside from what parents expect, time for yourself is necessary. Too much involvement can quickly take a turn for the worse. If you’re involved in three different clubs on top of overloading on classes, the stress can eventually take its toll both mentally and physically. It’s better to devote necessary time to a few things rather than take on too much and do things halfway. Plus, everyone needs a few hours of Netflix per week to function correctly.

6. Involvement can become pricy

Most clubs require members to pay dues that range anywhere from $10 to more than $60 per semester. Tack those funds on to three different club soccer sweatshirts you’ll want and “group bonding” activities. Eventually you’ll find yourself with a negative balance in your bank account trying to explain to mom and dad that you have thirty new friends but can’t afford books.

7. Breaks on the weekends can be hard to come by

Many clubs require you to attend a specific amount of events, practices or rehearsals. As a way to resolve inconsistent schedules on weekdays, organizations turn to the weekends. Kiss your nap time goodbye. Obviously the entire weekend isn’t gone but if you want to sleep in or go out with your friends, you still have to check your schedule. It gets frustrating when you feel like your life constantly revolves around your iCalendar.

8. Cliques are annoying

Remember when you thought coming to college would help you make friends and break away from the stereotypical high school drama? Wrong. If you’re a new member—freshman or not—it can be difficult to find where you belong. I recently joined an organization as a sophomore and it was surprisingly difficult for me to meet new people. Previous members worked together for two semesters already and I wrongly came in expecting to make friends right away.

9. Leadership roles are hard to hold

If you devote a lot of extra time to the club’s efforts, the thought of a leadership role will cross your mind. But the hierarchy system stands in your way. Again, there politics are involved with college clubs. You may think you’re more than qualified to be the treasurer or vice president of the club but if you had a falling out with one of the current leaders, it’ll likely be held over your head. There’s competition and pressure to prove yourself in any organization.

Gabby is a sophomore at Penn State University studying broadcast journalism and criminology. Days without coffee can't exist for Gabby and if her friends can't ever find her, she's more than likely at the office writing, spending money (she doesn't have) at Starbucks or hopefully the gym.

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