With an undergraduate enrollment of over 35,000, spanning over 2,000 acres, UF is huge. That massive size means that students should find a way to make this university feel a bit smaller. Some students will choose to rush a sorority or fraternity (see sorority blog here and fraternity blog here) but others will not find Greek life their cup of tea. No worries; there are many other possible ways to get involved on campus.
Some of you may believe that your student’s first job is school, and I couldn’t agree more. That said; being involved in some way is rather important too. Firstly, joining a club will help your student build a community. Since they’re leaving their family and sometimes their friends behind, getting involved helps them to discover new friends with similar interests. It only takes a few friends to make a large school feel smaller.
Joining clubs or organizations allows students to discover their passions and strengths. It also helps them to discover what they don’t like, which can be just as important. Freshman year is not too soon to begin thinking about positioning yourself for future employment. Club involvement helps to build resumes. Sometimes, busier kids do better in all areas. True, this isn’t so for all students, but it is for my kids and me. More free time does not always equal better grades. Being involved will require some organization and time management on the part of the student—and that’s a good thing to master as well.
Now that we’ve established the benefits of being involved in something other than a happy hour; the question is where he/she finds the right club or organization. Firstly, encourage your son/daughter to explore and not settle on the first club he/she visits. If after a few meetings he/she realizes that this is not where his/her passion lies; he/she should move on…and try another. I say go with an open mind and try everything once. Both of my daughters were involved with Her Campus, an online blog for collegiate women. They met other like-minded women and got experience in their area of interest.
My older daughter held a Director position with Gator Growl and credits her experience in that role helping her land a job right out of college (of course, the fact that some of the hiring personnel were Gators too did not hurt). They were both also involved with Dance Marathon.
Holding a position with some of the organizations requires an application. They did not always get selected for a position; however, they did continue to attend the events and get involved at a lower level as a way to meet the student directors and perhaps get their feet in the door.
I would love to give you a list of all the different places your student can get involved, but UF literally has over 1000 Recognized Student Organizations on campus covering almost any interest from dance, religion, politics, recreation, research, culture, music, adventure and more. They also have an involvement team called iTeam consultants that help students find organizations that interest them. They can head over to the Reitz Union Level 3 to set up an appointment or this website will help – if not overwhelming. There are always flyers and signs about campus as well. Below is a list of some popular clubs/organizations.
ACCENT Speaker’s Bureau is a student-run speaker’s bureau and the largest in the nation. It has been part of the UF campus for 50 years bringing prominent speakers to the campus. The events are free and open to the public. Last year saw Chelsea Handler, Ben Shapiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Dr. Jane Goodall amongst many other speakers.
Student Government – Perhaps a voice in UF’s student government is of interest to your student. This is a great way to hone those leadership skills.
Dance Marathon is wildly popular amongst sororities and fraternities, but truly there are many others who love to get involved. It is a yearlong event of planning and fundraising culminating in a dance marathon. When else would you get the chance to dance for 26 hours straight while raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network? It’s pretty awesome.
Intramural sports are a great option. It can be fun and it provides exercise and stress relief.
It’s not necessarily what they do, but rather that they find their place. Encourage your student to get involved in one or more student organizations. It is too easy to feel lost at a large campus and getting involved will most definitely make the campus seem much smaller.