It can be tempting when juggling a hectic schedule to take your classes, do your homework and not participate in what your college has to offer. This is especially true when pursuing a graduate degree such as a learning design and technology masters, when you may be living off-campus and employed full-time. However, devoting a few hours every day or even just every week to participate in student activities can help you achieve your student learning outcomes (SLOs), the overall goals for your education.
1. Develop Communication Skills
Communication is vital for any student group wishing to achieve something with their activities. When you join a group, you may not be the leader, but your contributions will be valued. Leadership in student groups is typically relegated to an organizational or advisory role. All group members will participate in discussions of the direction they want to go in; that’s why it’s vital that members learn to listen and to communicate their ideas clearly and politely.
As you participate in a student activity, you’ll become an active member in a group working toward a common goal. That’s especially appropriate for your SLOs, which likely include developing communication skills in order to become a valued member of a company or organization after graduation.
2. Become a Team Player
One of the advantages student activities have over traditional courses is they’re led by your fellow students. When you participate in an activity, you’re no longer following the lead of a professor. Rather, you’re learning to become a player on a team of your peers. There may be leaders who will guide the group’s objectives, but every member is supposed to pull their weight and help the group achieve its goals, whether it’s volunteering in the community, holding a cultural fair or participating in educational field trips.
Among your SLOs should be the goal to become a more effective team player, because in your career, people will rely on you to get your job done without causing disruptions. A student activity can be a safe place to practice your role as a team player.
3. Build Your Work Ethic
Money isn’t the end-all goal for your career. It’s necessary and desired, but if you don’t enjoy your work and excel at performing what’s expected of you, you’re not going to enjoy what you do or advance in your career. A student activity is a good place to develop a work ethic. You’re not going to be laboring for money or even grades. The rewards of participating in a student activity are intangible.
Still, if you enjoy being with the people in your group and you can get behind what it stands for, you’re more likely to want to volunteer your time to seeing the group’s goals completed.
4. Strengthen Your Resume
The skills that you develop as you participate in student activities will not only make you a better student, they make you a better candidate to potential employers, which is sure to be among the SLOs for your college experience. Extracurricular activities, particularly with groups that perform community service or in roles that showcase your leadership skills, make a great addition to your resume.
When you score a job interview, you can fall back on your student activity experiences for many of the questions employers pose. For example, holding a leadership position in a group can show how well you lead as well as how much initiative you have.
There are a number of benefits to participating in student activities, including developing communication skills, becoming a team player, building a good work ethic and strengthening your resume. No matter what you’re studying, whether you’re going for an instructional technology degree or a master’s in business, participation in campus activities will make you a more successful student and eventually help you in your career.
*Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Cody Gauer is a contributing blogger and a student activities coordinator for a small private college.