Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

Lessons From An Over-Involved College Senior

Updated Published
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

I visited all 260 student organizations at my school’s student involvement fair my freshman year. I signed up for 30 clubs from Women in Journalism to Ecology Club to the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. My email became spammed with club meetings and events, my schedule filled with outings and meet-ups and the list of names I was learning trailed on and on. 

Being over-involved is part of my identity for good and for bad. I’ve been a leader, I’ve been a member (both the slacker and over-achiever) and I’ve learned a lot throughout it all. Here’s the advice I’d give to anyone looking to get involved in college.

Things that are fun can also be formative. So often we are told that we should only invest our time in college towards getting a job and building the skills to attain said job. However, college is a time to develop as a person, not just as a future-employee. Sure your journalism club may help your professional writing in the future, but it could also teach you how to weed through information, synthesize knowledge, speak concisely and mitigate bias. These can be great career skills–they can also be great life skills making you well-rounded in aspects of your life outside of the workforce as well.

Learn how to be a leader from the inside. I had the equivalent of a “friend-crush” on one of my university’s student organizations: our college radio. I was totally intimidated by a group of people I thought was too cool for me ever to be a part of even though I was so intrigued by the work they did and the events they held. After two years of hands-off membership, I jumped into the deep end and applied to be on the executive board. To my surprise, I got elected! It was for a position I was passionate about, too–the pieces were falling into place. By taking this leap of faith I became close with the people I had observed from the outside and learned how to be a leader by being a leader. I took notes from the person who held my position before, made a list of reasonable things I could accomplish, kept other members engaged by personally connecting with them and ultimately had a grand time doing something that I loved with people I came to love as well!

Have friends that support your passions. I would run from my radio show to Journalism Club to Club Basketball practice. Most days I would have to pack my lunch and dinners in a lunch box to eat on the road and I would be gone from my dorm room from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Busy is a good word to summarize my college experience. I thrived on the rush but quickly realized that not everyone around me does too. Some friends felt neglected or like a second-thought because I was so busy with all of my other commitments. It took my two years of college life to finally learn how to prioritize my people with my activities. I also learned, though, the importance of keeping people around me who supported me in all of my endeavors no matter how time-consuming they may have been. They encouraged me to slow down once in a while too, something I really needed. Without these pals, I wouldn’t have stuck with all of these clubs that I loved and learned from.

Know when to say no. Because I was a total “yes man” my first few years of college, I was quite literally running around campus to keep up with my schedule. It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally learned a thing or two about sustainability. While I thrived off the rush, the rush got tiring. I learned how to skip a meeting or practice when I was feeling fatigued. I learned that these occasional “no’s” could lead to a more productive, yes-filled tomorrow. 

Be the person who makes inclusion happen. Picking a place to sit on the first intro meeting for a student organization has got to be in a Top Ten Most Anxiety-Provoking Collegiate Situations. I would always sigh the biggest breath of relief when someone would ask if they could sit by me or introduce themselves. It was these interactions that made me want to come back to the second meeting. I learned through leadership in different clubs that welcoming each person as they come in, asking every member for their opinion and encouraging camaraderie outside of assigned times were great ways to get people to come back and get involved. We all seek to fit in somewhere in college, so be the person that makes others feel comfortable and at home.

At times I wonder if I did too much, slept too little and got myself in over my head throughout these past four years. Then I think about the smiling faces I run into on campus every day that I wouldn’t have known unless I got involved in the organizations that I did. Friends to cherish, practical life skills to put to use and sappy stories to share are gifts I will forever appreciate from these experiences I was lucky enough to have said yes to throughout these four years.

Lucy is a senior at Saint Louis University studying occupational therapy. In her free time—if she has any—you may find her curating music for her DJ gig with KSLU radio, shooting hoops at the Rec Center, or drinking a fun little beverage. Her writing is like her life: sporadic, passionate, full of energy, and a bit all over the place.