Hello everyone! My name is Trung (Victor) Vu, and I’m a Vietnamese 🇻🇳 student at the University of Central Oklahoma. I major in Marketing with a minor in Interpersonal Communication. When I first arrived on campus, I was excited yet nerve-wracking to make new friends and discover more about myself and my home away from home.
I’d seen many American college movies: Wild parties, Beer pong, and red Solo cups. On the contrary, the overall college experience I was after was getting that degree and investing my time in academics. I understood the price tag of my education and had no intention of wasting the experience.
However, my entire trajectory completely changed when I started going out and meeting up with new students. I realized that studying abroad and the university experience is not only about academics but the campus life outside the classroom. One key piece of advice I learned from involvement was that many enriching opportunities were available and happening all around me! And when students are actively involved on-campus, they come about a crucial sense of belonging that contributes to higher expected benefits.
University co-curricular activities and clubs are a fantastic way to build new networks outside the classroom! The door of experiences is limitless – from hobbies, social activities, sports, and philanthropy to cultural & affinity organizations, academics, and beyond, there’s truly something for everyone!
By getting involved on campus, I finally saw that I would benefit in various ways. I will make lifelong friendships, extend my network, explore my interests with like-minded peers, develop leadership skills, feel connected, and improve my resume. Therefore, I strongly recommend finding at least one organization to join during your abroad years.
With numerous student organizations on every university’s campus, I know picking yourself an option in the ocean of student clubs is overwhelming. A great way to get started is to learn more about the clubs and organizations on campus.
Some ways to do this include:
• Browsing clubs on your college website or student org directory
• Checking out events on campus
• Following clubs and organizations’ social media sites
• Attending an in-person or virtual involvement fair
• Speaking with the student involvements office, resident assistant, and other students
So, what student organizations are right for you?
If you, like me, would like to get more involved on campus and are wondering where to start, I’ve got you covered! Take a look at my list of different types of organizations on campus and see what could be the perfect fit for you!
1) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE A LEADER 🚀
Fortunately, colleges are a goldmine for enhancing leadership opportunities for students! Taking on leadership roles on campus is an excellent opportunity to build real-life skills. You might consider participating in the student government association or student council, getting involved in a sports team, volunteering, or serving as a residence assistant, student ambassador, orientation leader, or peer health leader to incoming students. There is no limitation on opportunities to lead in a student community.
2) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Volunteering during college empowers students to create meaningful changes and learn soft skills to advance their careers. Whenever I give back to my community, I feel happier, healthier, and closer to the community.
Remember to check out what community service and social justice groups are around you. Look into voluntary organizations in your community and browse campus events.
• If you like teaching others, sign up as a tutor for needy students.
• Love reusing, reducing, and recycling? Sign up for your student sustainability program.
• Politically-motivated? Sign up to volunteer for a social movement that affiliates with your ideals and goals.
• Love traveling? Look into Alternative Spring Break trips for a globe-trotting adventure with lasting impact!
3) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET ACTIVE 💪
You don’t have to be a star athlete to satisfy your sports curiosity! Many teams and club sports are available, both competitive and non-competitive.
Explore intramural programs and visit fitness facilities such as the recreation center, pool, gym, wellness center, and studios. Check out the schedule of classes and events such as community marathons, aerobics, or yoga. Love the outdoors? See what your school’s outdoor adventure club is up to! Often, many universities offer their students a free outdoor recreation center.
4) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO BEYOND YOUR ACADEMICS 📚
Do you want to apply on-course lessons and learn outside the classroom? Get involved with clubs in your academic department, major, or concentration!
You can supplement your perspective on issues related to your professional goals and areas of interest. This involvement can help you build strong relationships with your classmates and professors. These connections and experiences can be invaluable when applying for jobs or graduate school programs. Marching band, finance club, school’s media and publication groups, pre-med or pre-law club, etc, you name it!
5) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE CULTURE & DIVERSITY 🌎
Diversity and inclusion in college matter because different backgrounds allow students to learn from one another. Joining a cultural organization, or participating in their events, can also help a student who feels unrepresented to know they are supported and counted.
Check out groups and events on your campus hosted by international student-led organizations. Remember that you don’t need to be of Indian heritage to attend your school’s Holi event. You will learn, appreciate, and improve your cultural competence while broadening your cultural horizon.
6) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY 🏳️🌈
Many colleges have a dedicated resource center and organizations for LGBTQIA+ students and allies. These organizations and activities are designed to explore, educate, celebrate and support populations with shared identities and experiences.
Find out about your school’s workshops, resources, and opportunities to participate as a group member or peer mentor.
7) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO GREEK 👐
Almost any university in America has an active Greek Life community. Consider joining a fraternity or sorority. You are an introvert? Don’t be scared off by stereotypical American college movies. College students here do party, but not all day, 24/7. There are all kinds of Greek Life organizations, both interest and community service-based.
One thing you can be sure, a collective focus on academics, leadership, community service, and brotherhood/sisterhood are among their core values. The only way to discover your fit is to meet members of these communities, so I encourage you to attend a Greek fair and meet some potentially lifelong friends!
8) AND IF YOU WANT TO HAVE SOME FUN 🤩😁😛
Not every club needs to have a goal-oriented purpose beyond pure enjoyment. With a hefty schedule of classes, home assignments, essays, and finals, it’s essential to make time to relax, decompress, or indulge in a fun activity that has nothing to do with your studies.
On your campus, others share your hobbies and interests, so be sure to consider joining a group related to them to help find these new connections! Nothing can stop you from being involved in anime, medieval clubs, comic books, crafting, E-sports, culinary adventures, etc.!
Now it’s your turn to be involved and discover your inner leader! As a person who used to live under a rock, I encourage all students to find ways to get involved in their future campus communities. Pick one. It could change everything. ❤️