As incoming freshmen attend orientation and count down the days until they get to leave home for college, student organizations gear up to recruit them. It’s an exciting time for everyone — new students have the chance to reinvent themselves and try something new, while clubs and organizations have the chance to find enthusiastic new members. The “get involved” cliche will haunt most students’ freshman year; parents, professors and upperclassmen will all say it. Then they’ll say it again. On one hand it’s good advice and will serve you well in the long run, and on the other it’s bothersome to hear anything repeated that many times.
However, cliches usually start with a little bit of truth, and if your parents, professors and upperclassmen all agree on something, it might not be a bad idea to listen. For the first few weeks of fall term, practically every club will have meetings and look for new members. By going to these meetings you can meet a bunch of new people, learn about the cool things that Drexel students do, or find something you never knew that interests you.
The dangerous thing about the “get involved” cliche and the excitement of freshman year is that it’s incredibly easy to sign up for too many things. There are so many student organizations that do cool things, and it’s easy to want to be part of all of it. Unfortunately, you also have to take classes and study, so you can’t spend all your time on extracurriculars. It’s fine to start the year by going to an overwhelming amount of introductory meetings and eating a ton of free pizza at those meetings. But then you should make a decision about what clubs you’re most interested in and stick with them. It’s good to be involved and to have people know your name and face. However, it’s better to be invested and to have a small group of peers who know you very well than to have your schedule filled with a million general-body meetings.
Also keep in mind that extracurricular activities aren’t just about having fun and socializing. They can also be an extremely valuable way to develop career skills and grow your professional network. Many co-op employers care more about your work experience and leadership skills than they do about your academic accomplishments. Extracurricular work that relates to your career goals is just as valuable on your resume as an internship, and it’s usually much more fun because you’re working with your peers rather than with older professionals. We cannot stress enough how important it is to start building up an impressive resume for co-op immediately. Drexel boasts paid co-ops as one of its strongest selling points to prospective students, but the reality is that there are also many unpaid co-ops, especially in certain majors. If you want to beat out the tough competition for a paid co-op, you need to have an impressive resume before your first round of co-op interviews. Involvement with a student organizations is one of the easiest ways to start getting that experience as a freshman.
Because we were once freshmen ourselves, we know it can feel intimidating to join clubs when you’re so new to the campus and hardly know any upperclassmen yet. It’s natural to feel that way, but you shouldn’t let it hold you back from getting involved. If you’re willing to work hard and be a valuable member of a club, nobody will care that you’re a freshman. Commitment earns respect on this campus regardless of what year you are.