5 Ways to Get Involved on Campus

portrait of Michelle R. Kelley
by Michelle R. Kelley

Published on August 5, 2021

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5 Ways to Get Involved on Campus

Whether it's your first semester of college or you're entering your senior year, getting involved on campus can be a rewarding experience.

If you're a new student, joining an organization or intramural sports team may help you make new friends on campus. If you're about to graduate, securing an on-campus job or research position can help you develop new skills, bolster your resume, and expand your professional network.

We've identified five ways to help you get involved on campus.

Join or Start a Student Organization

One way of getting involved on campus is to join a student organization. To find student groups, start by searching online. Many colleges have offices of student engagement or student life, which typically provide listings of student groups on their homepages.

Students can take part in many different organizations. Some join fraternities or sororities. Others participate in pre-professional groups and honor societies. Colleges may also offer housing options for students who share a common culture, background, or identity.

Example honor societies include Psi Chi for psychology students and Delta Mu Delta for business students. Student centers, such as Oberlin College's Multicultural Resource Center, provide information on groups for LGBTQ+ students, first-generation college students, and students of color.

Student groups meet virtually and in person.

If you can't find a student group that interests you, start your own. At most schools, you must secure approval from a governing board to launch a new student organization.

Get a Job on Campus

If you want to get involved on campus while earning some extra income, consider pursuing a flexible on-campus job.

Many schools hire undergraduates to lead campus tours for prospective students or assist customers at the college bookstore. Some colleges also hire students as resident advisors who organize events and monitor activities in college dorms, often in exchange for discounted or free housing.

Many schools offer federal work-study jobs to students with financial need. On-campus employers understand school is your first priority and may be more willing to work around your class schedule than employers off campus. This flexibility can help you maintain balance as a college student while you juggle work, school, and other responsibilities.

Working on campus can offset college expenses. It also may help you develop transferable skills, such as the ability to communicate and work in teams. These "soft skills" are valuable in nearly every profession.

Participate in Club Sports or Intramural Teams

If you enjoy sports but don't want to try out for collegiate teams, consider participating in sports clubs or joining an intramural team. Staying active can help your physical and mental health at college. Also, studies suggest playing intramural sports contributes to students' social development and may improve academic performance.

Intramural sports include flag football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. Some schools also offer less conventional sports, such as cornhole and ladderball. Also, at some schools, such as UCLA, students can play esports, competing in games like League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Club sports are more competitive than intramural sports, and you'll probably have to try out to join a team. That said, you don't need to be an outstanding athlete to get involved in either club sports or intramural sports. Most programs welcome casual and competitive players.

Contact Your Professors About Research Opportunities

Participating in on-campus research is another great way to get involved in college. Students in just about any discipline may find positions assisting graduate students and faculty in academic research; however, you can usually find the most opportunities in areas like psychology, sociology, and science and engineering.

While research positions are common at premier research institutions like Johns Hopkins University and Stanford, faculty at smaller schools also work with undergraduate researchers.

As a volunteer researcher, you may not be paid or earn college credit. If, however, you plan to go to graduate school, assisting in faculty research may make you a stronger applicant. You can gain hands-on experience while working closely with a faculty member who may write you a recommendation letter to support your application.

To find research opportunities, contact your school's career center or ask your professors directly, either during office hours or by email. When writing to a professor, use proper email etiquette — faculty members are more likely to respond favorably if your message is detailed, clear, and concise.

Attend Campus Events

Schoolwide events are a way colleges and universities try to increase student involvement on campus. Faculty and staff organize public lectures, career fairs, community service events, and many other activities. Academic divisions and departments may also host events like faculty book talks and film screenings.

Various events are hosted throughout the year. However, schools often schedule special events during college fundraising campaigns to raise money for specific projects, such as the construction of a new campus building. Upcoming events are advertised in newsletters, emails, and flyers. While events are usually held on campus, they're sometimes hosted off campus or online.

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Involved on Campus

Why is it important to get involved on campus?

One of the benefits of getting involved in college is that it widens your social circle. You can meet other students who share your interests and possibly build friendships. Participating in on-campus activities may also help you develop new skills, explore new interests, and deepen your sense of belonging within the college community.

What is campus involvement?

Campus involvement takes many forms. Some students participate in Greek life, while others are active in honor societies and pre-professional groups. Many students join intramural sports teams or attend school-sponsored events. Career-minded students often work on campus or assist faculty in academic research.

Is there a correlation between student involvement and high academic success?

Students who are active on campus often perform better academically than their less-involved peers. Some studies suggest that participating in intramural sports can also positively impact students' performance in school. In addition, students who volunteer as researchers may benefit academically by developing new skills and establishing positive professional relationships with faculty.

What do students do on campus for fun?

Student organizations often host events, such as holiday parties, fundraisers, and film screenings. Some departments host end-of-semester celebrations. Dorm residents may participate in activities like open mic nights or talent shows. Students who join a college chorus, glee club, or marching band perform at concerts and sporting events.

Are extracurricular activities important in college?

Participating in extracurriculars may help you discover untapped talents, develop new skills, and forge friendships. Although academics are important, students seeking the full college experience can benefit from joining student clubs, attending events, and otherwise participating in campus life.

Feature Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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