Welcome to the club: Education more than just going to class

Thomas Goad

Shane Jones, undecided  sophomore, and Destiny Zynda, exercise physiology junior, are the first to finish at the MSU Cardboard Boat Race where students and organizations build a boat out of cardboard, and duck tape and race across Sikes Lake, Oct, 30. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Shane Jones, undecided sophomore, and Destiny Zynda, exercise physiology junior, are the first to finish at the MSU Cardboard Boat Race where students and organizations build a boat out of cardboard, and duck tape and race across Sikes Lake, Oct, 30. Photo by Francisco Martinez

From playing a game of Ultimate to joining together in the Catholic Campus Ministry, there are more than 100 groups in which students can get involved, helping them to feel more comfortable and active within the campus.

“Getting involved is very important for a college experience. Students should find an organization that matches their personality. Find where you fit, find your niche,” said Matthew Chisholm, a coordinator of student affairs.

Students that are more involved on campus and in organizations are more likely to stay at the university and statistically have a higher percentage of graduating.

“Involvement will often lead to a student getting and maintaining a higher grade point average. Most groups have a minimum GPA requirement and members scared of losing their position will strive to keep their grades above it,” said Chisholm.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Matthew Park agreed.

“We want students to be responsible human beings who can communicate and who can think, who can work with a group. I don’t think you exclusively learn these skills in the traditional classroom environment,” he said. “You can learn them through co-curricular experiences as well. It’s a positive thing when students get involved, meaning they find something they are passionate about and interested in, and they pursue it.”

To help students find their passion, 87 registered student organizations provide students the opportunity to develop leadership skills, to learn how to work on a team and how to organize events.

Twenty of these student organizations are academic, as well as four club sports, eight cultural,15 Greek, two hobbies and sports, 13 honorary, six religious and faith-based, 14 special interest, five student governance, and four university committees.

Students can pick an organization that fits their needs for camaraderie, learning new skills and that, at the same time, fits their schedule.

“Time management is a major key to being successful. Students that are involved in more than one thing usually will have a planner or a set schedule outside of class to keep them on the same page as their peers,” said Chisholm.

For some students academic organizations help them engage outside the classroom, extending what they are learning in the classroom. Students with exemplary grades can apply to different honors programs. These programs recognize academic achievement and give members the chance to develop their own leadership skills.

Chey Gibbs, radiology sophomore, said, “Being in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars has helped me get more connected to people in the same field I am going into. It helps keep me in track study-wise and is a great way to network after college.”

Jasmeen De La Torre, psychology junior said, “I would highly recommend joining a club or organization because you’re here for four years and being involved makes your college experience worth going to class, studying late nights and being stressed out other than getting a career because you have the rest of your life to work. I feel that being involved has so many benefits that can help you grow as an individual outside of the organization, whatever you’re in.”

Potential employers look through a graduate’s resume to see if the applicant was involved in any extracurricular activities. Active involvement in the university can show future careers an extra drive that opposing candidates might not have.

“I got involved initially to make connections and be able to put something on resume, but once I did, I realized that it was a lot more than that,” said David Marler, management sophomore.

Nia White, political science junior, Barbara McGuire, criminal justice junior, and Kim Gundu, respiratory care junior, dance and sing behind a big truck blasting festive Caribbean music down Council Drive, turning onto Comanche Trail, Sept. 25. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Marler said, “I have met some of my best friends and have had some of the greatest experiences by doing so. We are able to help out the campus and community at the same time.”

Members of social organizations help to promote school events and members volunteer on and off of campus. Specifically, members of 14 nationally affiliated fraternities and sororities on campus, students can get the chance to be involved with the community and different charities.

“Because of their involvement they have a greater connection to the institution,” Kevin Bazner, assistant director of student development and orientation said, “There’s a greater likelihood that (involved students) will stay here on the campus and their grades improve. They feel more welcome and included in the overall community.”

April Townsend, mechanical engineering sophomore, said, “Each sorority has a different philanthropic group that they sponsor and fund raise for, but that doesn’t limit volunteering. We have to have a certain amount of volunteer hours individually every semester to be able to stay in. It is a great way to give back.”

Students also have the option to join a recreational sports teams and can play in the intramural seasons in both the spring and fall semesters.

Marler said, “I love basketball so I play the intramural games as much as I can every season. It keeps me in shape and I never have a problem playing with a group of my friends.”

As Bazner said, being involved on campus can mean different things to different students. Some choose to be involved simply by attending events across campus. Some get involved, with varying degrees of responsibility in campus groups.

“But being involved also means making connections and taking time to get involved with some of your faculty and staff members,” Bazner said, encouraging students to regularly check on their academic progress and to visit faculty/staff during office hours.

Some students choose to get involved on campus by working in any of dozens of departments around campus that employ students. The work-study program allows students to work on campus up to 20 hours per week, helping to pay for college expenses.

Work-study is offered throughout the different areas of campus for students to be able to work for the school and earn money to help pay for college expenses.

“I have been very happy working for the university. It fits to my class schedule, I am able to work directly on campus, and it doesn’t cut into my schoolwork. I like being able to work with the university faculty as well, it makes me feel more connected,” said Nick King, accounting junior.

For some students working during college is optional, while others need to make money to pay bills and expenses. University jobs can help students maintain the correct hours dedicated to studying so employees can sustain a constant grade-point average.

“A college experience should be something that pushes you, something that is challenging. It should be eye-opening, spontaneous and adventurous,” said Chisholm. “Getting involved can help make that happen.”

Jaylon Williams, sociology sophomore, said, “I didn’t want to be here for four years and just go to class and go to my room. I wanted to get the most out of my college experience.”


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