Making the Most of College through Student Organizations

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Student Leadership Council, a student organization

I’m an English Education major, so why am I writing press releases, managing websites and reporting for a professional media outlet? The answer—my co-curricular activities.

I applied to write for The Collegian, the BJU campus newspaper, on a whim, not thinking I’d be accepted. Little did I know that the experience I received would change my life.

My three years on staff opened a new world of journalism and mass communication. Working first as a staff writer, I progressed to being web editor, copy editor and editor-in-chief.  I’ve used the skills I learned on staff to work a summer as a professional writer and to serve as communications director on the Student Leadership Council.

For me, co-curriculars have been an invaluable resource. But what can you expect from getting involved? Here are five ways to use co-curriculars to enhance your college career.

Hone your skills through authentic experience

A famous proverb says, “Tell me, I’ll forget / Show me, I’ll remember / Involve me, I’ll understand.” As the proverb notes, humans learn from doing—you have to get involved. Co-curriculars offer the much-needed link between classroom learning and real-world experience.

Whether you’re reporting the latest news for the WBJU-TV station or advertising an upcoming event for the University Marketing Association, you’ll be able to quickly apply what you’re learning in class in an authentic way.

Explore your passions in new and familiar areas

A liberal arts education allows you to explore many areas of study, including art, politics and science. You’ll want to explore more interests than your electives allow. You might not be a political science major, but participating in the S.C. Student Legislature and the BJU student-led Public Policy Organization will get your feet wet in the complicated world of politics.

Are you interested in computer programming, graphic design or learning a second language? BJU has student organizations tailored to all kinds of interests. Use co-curriculars to find and pursue your passions.

Build a community with people who share your passions

By joining a student organization, you’ll be able to connect with people who have your same interests. You’ll be surprised how quickly a love for Spanish, accounting or a host of other interests can bring people together. You might find that your closest friends will come from your co-curriculars.

Develop your leadership in a low-stakes environment

Every student organization is run by student leaders. Stick around long enough and you might find yourself as one of them. Like most skills, leadership is built through trial and error. A student leadership position will give you a safe place to experience both success and failure. Both will prepare you for your future career.

Build your professional resume

Your participation in co-curriculars will become a useful bargaining chip when you start applying for jobs. It’s not enough to have a degree and a decent GPA. Employers want to see that you’re well-rounded and able to balance multiple responsibilities. Your participation in any number of organizations will give you one-up on an otherwise equally qualified job candidate.

Final thoughts

Co-curriculars can be a valuable supplement to your college education—use them. Take time to get involved in at least one student organization to benefit from the relevant experience. Trust me, your professional career and personal life will thank you.

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Ian Dyke is a senior English Education major and communications director for the Student Leadership Council.