by Janina Denise H. Torralba
College is the stage of your education during which you will have to pull out all the stops. You can goof off a little bit in elementary and in high school, but you have to be extra careful with your grades in college. Any grade you earn will stick with you forever. Yes, you may opt to retake a subject, but what your professors write on your TOR stays on your TOR.
Does this mean that you can’t have fun in college? Of course not. This does mean, however, that you have to spend your free time carefully and wisely. What better way to do so than by engaging in collegiate extra-curricular activities?
In college, a whole new world of opportunities opens up to you. There will always be sports teams, dance troupes, choirs, and academic clubs, but you will also find other kinds of organizations, or orgs for short. College has everything, from the religious (e.g. UST Pax Romana, Youth for Christ, Christ’s Youth in Action) to the unusual (e.g. UP Anime Manga Enthusiasts, DLSU PhilSEDS). Of course, you can’t forget about the student government in each university. All of these groups have a purpose. They organize activities within their respective universities and even represent the university in nationwide or international events.
Should you go for one of these groups? If you have excellent time management skills and great stamina, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. In fact, there’s nothing banning you from joining more than one group. But, as with any decision, there are a few things you have to keep in mind when finding groups to join.
Interest Vs. Skill
Are you interested in the group’s purpose? Good. Do you have the aptitude and the energy for the group’s activities? Even better. Some groups prefer recruiting members who are already skilled in their field, but others won’t really care, as long as you have the same passion as they do. Remember, some groups will train you in their craft, while some need you to know what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to talk to the members of these groups! They will gladly be of assistance to you.
So Much to Do, So Little Time (And Money)
Are you hoping to just have people to share your passion with, or are you planning to really get your head in the game full time? The more popular groups will keep you busy with all sorts of things such as training sessions, conferences, contests, and a lot more. In other groups, you can just lie low and enjoy being with your co-members. Determine how active your desired groups are first to make sure that joining any of them will not interfere with your studies.
While we’re on the topic of budgeting your time, you should also consider budgeting your college funds. Some orgs will require you to spend much for excursions, fairs, and personal needs (e.g. gadgets, outfits, sporting goods, collector’s items, etc.), while some will be less demanding and perhaps even funded by associations or the university itself. Your wallet matters just as much as your watch when finding a group to join.
Mind Over Matter
Since college is mostly about preparing for your future, it is wise to keep your career path in mind when choosing an extra-curricular activity to engage in. There are several groups that cater exactly to your career path, and some of them might even be exclusive to your department. If you’re studying mass media, join your university’s radio station. If you’re majoring in music, you can join the choir or the orchestra. The possibilities go on and on. Taking up activities related to your degree program will help you hone necessary skills, earn you extra credit from willing professors, and give you an impressive resumé.
Moreover, some extra-curricular activities offer scholarships to those who take them up. Some common examples are sports scholarships and acting scholarships. In some cases, these scholarships are exclusive to certain departments, but some are open to anyone who meets the requirements for such special scholarships. You just have to look around for scholarships which you feel you have a flair for.
You have to remember, however, that these scholarships are not served on a silver platter. In addition to being skilled in a specified area, you also have to maintain a certain grade. Usually, the lowest maintaining grade for special scholarships is either 2.00 or 1.75. This is a feat for some students, especially in universities where standards are high. If you feel confident that you can do keep up with the academic and non-academic requirements of such scholarships, go for it.
But Wait, There’s More
Want to know a secret? Some orgs will offer you tips on how to score bonus points with the professors. They might divulge your professor’s habits and idiosyncrasies, the knowledge of which might help you win your professor’s favor if you use said knowledge properly. Just remember not to rely solely on the information that will be relayed to you! Some tips are bogus, while others might be obsolete. Check for the validity of the tips first, and don’t forget to still pour in some effort in your classes.
It All Comes Down to This
Try asking yourself, what suits you? What do you love? What will make you a better person or a better student (particularly in terms of your degree program)? What works for your circumstances? What will help you most in the long run? These are the things that will matter when getting involved in more than just academics.
The next four years or so of your life will not be easy, and that’s a promise. However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be fun. After all, how will you keep sane if you will bury yourself in work all the time? You need to have a fun, fulfilling break at least every once in a while. The fun part of college is worth spent doing what you love with people who have similar interests, and sometimes, in a way that will fuel your scholastic journey. When you look back at your college life, you will surely treasure this kind of fun.
Best of luck in college, and above all, have fun!