The slogan “Be involved” is clearly visible on every JMU website, but unfortunately some people take it too far. Many students (for example) attempt to join the University Program Board, Outriggers, Student Ambassadors, Delta Delta Delta and the water polo team all in the same day. While involvement in some extracurriculars is good and healthy, students who get too swept up in the club craze can sometimes find themselves over exhausted, overcommitted and overwhelmed.
In order to make the most of their college experience, students need to resist the sign-up sheets at Student Organization Night and limit the number of activities they get involved in on campus.
As much fun as the social scene can be, the thousands of dollars that students and their parents pay are in pursuit of a degree, not a good time. It doesn’t make economic sense to join five clubs to boost a résumé, to get a job, fail classes and end up staying an extra year in even more debt.
The overcommitted student, who has less time to dedicate to their studies, is actually diminishing their value as a future employee because they have missed out on information in classes that apply to their chosen field.
One argument for becoming highly involved in campus activities is that the social and networking skills developed are worth just as much as a 4.0 GPA. While having a few extracurricular activities is beneficial, being involved in four or five means running around in so many circles that it is hard to develop long-lasting friendships and meaningful connections because there are too many friends and activities to juggle. That time doesn’t allow for any sort of deep investment.
Participating in too many activities can also be detrimental to students’ health. It’s obvious to anyone who has stepped foot in Carrier Library Starbucks that the majority of students are overtired and over-cafeinated. Sleep deprivation can lead to decreased attention spans and concentration in class as well as moodiness and weight gain. It can also weaken the immune system so that the cold virus that goes around every fall can put students out of commission and classes for days at a time.
College is a time of personal growth and maturation, of developing beliefs and habits that will characterize lifestyle choices that will continue after four years are over. Taking time to reflect and think are essential for this process of growth, but it isn’t possible if the is student bombarded with executive meetings and lunch dates.
Also, joining seven different clubs doesn’t prepare students for the real world. In most cases, after students graduate, they will have one job where they will go to one place and stay there all day. Maybe they will have an activity or two on the side, but their work environment will most likely be very different from the cultural A.D.D. of campus life. They will have long-term professional goals and relationships to maintain rather than ones that last a semester or can be easily dropped when something more interesting comes along. Does joining every club on campus really prepare students for the focus and long term planning that will come in the professional world?
While having an active social life and becoming involved in organizations that students are passionate about is a healthy part of coming to college, the social pressure to be in everything and know everyone can often be overwhelming. If students succumb to the idea that their college experience isn’t complete without joining every organization and sports team that they can possibly cram into their schedule, they may miss out on learning and enjoying the atmosphere of being in school.
Sarah Bain is a junior music industry major. Contact Sarah at email@example.com.