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BS org, major in extracurriculars: What to consider before joining a college organization  

Ysa Abad
BS org, major in extracurriculars: What to consider before joining a college organization  
In between classes and other commitments, is joining an organization a worthy addition to a student's load? 

College life can get pretty hectic, given that students are expected to acquire the skills and knowledge they might need for a more competitive and challenging “real” world. But while it sounds daunting, there’s also several aspects of college life that make it memorable – such as the student organization culture. 

Being a member of an organization gives students that opportunity to foster relationships outside of their classes and pursue matters they’re passionate about. But in between classes, family, academic requirements, social life, and other commitments that a college student has to balance, will an organization be a worthy addition to their load? 

The answer: it has to be. Because if it doesn’t, then what’s the point of joining one in the first place? To make sure you’re making the best decision for your college life, we prepared a list of what you have to consider before you join an organization. 

What does the organization stand for?

Most college institutions have several student-led organizations that are often divided into different categories depending on their purpose: academic, cause-oriented or socio-civic, varsitarian, religious, special interest, fraternities and sororities, among others. 

The first step would be identifying the reason you’re looking for an organization. Do you want to be around upperclassmen who can guide you in choosing which classes are the best fit for your major? Is there an advocacy you feel passionate about? Do you want to open up about your interest in a particular culture without being judged? Reasons often vary for each student. 

It’s best that a student explore all their options and research each properly – attend orientations, ask questions, and observe the group’s dynamics. If during the orientation, there are noticeable points that they’re not comfortable discussing with members outside of the organization, then that could be a red flag.

Determine also if the organization remains true to their purpose. Do these cause-oriented organizations prepare activities for their chosen beneficiaries and specific advocacies? Are the members of an academic organization in good academic standing? If there’s dissonance with the reason behind the organization and how they’re performing, then best believe that the organization might not satisfy your needs.

Once you get involved in a student organization, there’s no turning back. That’s why it’s important to research the history and culture of any group you’re planning to join and make sure that it’s something you’re interested in and comfortable with. 

What can I offer to the organization?

Once you’ve set your eyes on a group, ask yourself: am I ready to commit to being a responsible member of an organization? Am I willing to make changes in my student life to accommodate my responsibilities to the organization? 

As a member, you’re more than likely expected to participate in meetings, training, and other extracurricular activities that might require you to sacrifice more of your personal and study time. Instead of having the whole weekend to recuperate, your organization might have a scheduled event that you have to participate in, or after finishing your assignments for a class, you have to spend another hour preparing an event proposal for your organization. It’s going to take so much of your time, and unless you’re prepared to balance it with your studies, then most likely one of them will be compromised. 

Members are also expected to fulfill their financial obligations to the organization such as paying membership fees or meeting quotas for fund-raising activities. While organizations are also lenient and understanding of their members’ financial capabilities, you have to be prepared to open up about your financial situation. This might be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with people you’ve just met, but remember that while you’re learning about the organization and its members, they should also be learning more about you. 

Unless you’re already comfortable with sharing yourself with the organization, then best to not be a part of it yet. After all, just like how students look for a group that deserves them, organizations also look for members that suit them. 

What can I get from joining an organization?

As with how most healthy relationships should go, being a member of an organization should be a process of give-and-take. While it’s time-consuming and an additional responsibility, there’s also several perks to being part of an organization.

Joining a student organization can be a way to learn more about your goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Juggling activities will let you know whether you’re good at multitasking, staying organized, and handling responsibilities. Members will get to broaden their strengths and improve their weaknesses and learn what works and what doesn’t. 

Members are also presented with opportunities to gain essential skills in communication, attitude, and work ethic that could be beneficial for their future career. One can learn how to negotiate, solve problems, plan events, generate ideas, delegate tasks, and communicate with both individuals and large groups, for example. And the best part, supportive organizations often give members a safe place to test out their skills without the pressure of failing or messing things up. 

More often than not, organizations are made up of a diverse group of people – and members are given the chance to foster relationships that aren’t often part of their usual circle. One can learn how to respond to different people and situations,  and even find people who share the same interests. Aside from friendships, being a member of an organization also provides the opportunity to network and build relationships that can potentially help you in your future careers. 

There’s also no arguing that being part of an organization looks good on a resumé, as it tells employers that you’ve had experience working well with a team. 

But most of all, being a member of an organization should be fulfilling. Go back to the reason why you’ve wanted to join an organization in the first place, and assess if your whys were met during your stay in the group. – 

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