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Getting involved this semester

Consider joining a student organization

As students return to school for the spring, they should be encouraged to get involved with campus activities. Being a more active member of the community can enrich their college experience.

   You’ve heard it all before. Your parents, your professors and maybe your friends if they like you despite your inactivity. Everyone seems to be saying the same thing: that you should go join a club, you should go get involved. You might as well make 2015 your year.

You certainly have no shortage of choices. UMBC hosts more than 200 student organizations. Some are major specific, some are fraternities and some focus on languages or nationalities. No matter your interests there is a student group that will welcome you. You might think it can be hard to get involved. It’s definitely easier to stay inside, and to say that you need to focus on your studies. But the longer you think about it, the harder it is to make excuses.

Many of these organizations are very low-key arrangements. You will not be devoting huge blocks of your time to the creative writing club, for instance. Plenty of organizations meet twice a week at most, and don’t require large time commitments. You are welcome to drop in and drop out at your convenience.

“Some students feel like they don’t have time to get involved,” said Sara Leidner, coordinator of Student Life for student organizations and involvement.

“I’d say that getting involved and making a difference doesn’t necessarily mean being the president of an organization and spending 20 hours a week on a particular curricular activity. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Students can still have meaningful experiences by being a member,” said Leidner.

Though some organizations do require much more time and effort, if you’re looking for a resume booster and something to fill your free time. Model UN, for example, or any of the club sports, have regimented meeting and training schedules. No matter what experience or commitment you’re looking for, UMBC has it.

By now, many of you are turning the page, not wanting to hear again that you need to go out and join something. Until recently, I would have been on your side. Just this last semester, I started to get out and get involved, and it’s the best choice I’ve made in a while.

My freshman year played out as I imagine many of yours did: a brief flurry of activity upon move-in, followed by settling into a much more mundane routine. So, this year, I made it a point to get involved. I joined the Retriever, got a job with The Commons, I got involved with Bartleby and I joined the astronomy club.

None of these have been the kind of commitment that might interfere with my studies, and they’ve all been worth it. I’m making money and I’m more engaged in the campus. Most importantly, I’m actually talking to people instead of sitting in my room.

Everyone agrees on the benefits. “Student organizations allows students to connect with their peers outside of the classroom, build friendships, gain many transferable skills that make them more marketable for future jobs or graduate school,” said Leidner.

So, in 2015, as well as eating better and working out and whatever other goals you make every year, resolve to get involved. Class shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind. So join a club, resolve to go to a student org’s event or go to SEB’s weekly movie. This year, don’t just live or study on campus: live in it.

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