Building an on-campus presence in your university’s community can be one of the most daunting yet crucial undertakings in making your academic career successful. According to the National Center for Education and Statistics, “participation and success are strongly associated as evidenced by participants’ better attendance, higher levels of achievement, and aspirations to higher levels of education.” Not only does involvement facilitate a sense of belonging, but it also fosters retention and academic success.
As both a transfer and commuter student I understand first-hand the vitality (and difficulty) of on-campus participation and engagement. The ticket to consistent, relished participation is finding a community and making it your own. With over 400 student-led organizations, Virginia Commonwealth University makes this formidable task a bit easier.
As a senior who graduates in the spring, here is my advice to first-years, transfers, commuters, and any student who wants to make their campus feel like home. Take it from me — I’ve been there too!
- Utilize every opportunity given to you
Attend orientations, career fairs, student org days, “block parties,” events hosted by your major’s department or RA, etc. The best tool for finding these opportunities is your email. Read the daily and weekly announcements from your major’s department and the university.
- Join a student organization that aligns with your academic and career goals
Joining student organizations and clubs that align with your future and present goals allows you to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who push you toward those aspirations. These types of organizations open the gateway to networking and look great on a resume!
- Or, just join a student organization you find interesting
You can join both, in fact, it is encouraged. Join sports clubs or clubs that align with your hobbies or an interest you’ve never had the chance to explore.
- Go to your professors’ office hours
I promise they want to meet you. Your professors are your greatest assets when it comes to finding research opportunities, reaching higher education goals, and most obviously, their class.
- Work an on-campus job
This is like double dipping! Making money while using it as a skill and resume builder; plus, these types of jobs provide an on-campus community. Universities are always looking for student workers. Check your university websites for job openings.
- Start your own club
Don’t see an organization you like? Or think you have a great idea for a new club? Start your own.
- Participate in research
A majority of your professors are working on a project of their own. Inquire if you can participate, shadow, or even be a test subject within their ongoing work.
- “Hang out” on campus
Study in the library or the student commons. Find a place that works best for you and invite your friends to go with you.
I am a firm believer that you “get out what you put in.” Meaning the amount of effort you provide, is the amount of benefit you will reap. Just joining an organization will not provide you the networking and successes you are searching for. I strongly urge everyone to utilize your campus resources. Employ your campus’ academic centers, advisors, student health centers, student fairs, career centers, and gyms; the list goes on. Your university wants you to succeed in their community; sometimes it just takes a little extra effort on your end.
For my VCU friends, check out this website for more information about how to get involved at VCU.