Open the Checkbook—It’s Time to Join Campus Organizations

Picture with me a not-so-unimaginable scenario. Your caller ID tells you that your college-age son or daughter is calling. You are ecstatic because he or she does not always remember to call as often as you would like. But after the little niceties that begin your conversation, your college student asks you for money. It’s time to join campus organizations and they need a wad of cash to cover all the dues.

So as a college parent, what do you do? Your instinct tells you that a key to college success is to be involved on campus, but your wallet tells you otherwise. What do you tell your student?

Tell your student to do his/her research! Get your student to ask around—does this organization do anything on campus or is it just something people join so they can get another line on their resume? You cannot make college count if you are essentially paying for another line on your resume. College success, especially in extracurricular activities, has more to do with what you did in the organizations rather than how many memberships you can rack up.

Also, your student will be better off joining a few organizations they are passionate about and have the time to devote to their success. Many students convince themselves that belonging to as many organizations as humanly possible creates an impressive resume. Most recruiters, though, care more about the impact a student has within an organization than the number of organizations the student is a member of. For real job search impact, your student should join organizations that do something meaningful on campus and pertain to something the student enjoys. Students should get involved as active participants and leaders, not just as a dues-paying member. A good interviewer will ask not what organizations a student belonged to, but what that student did to improve the organization.

College survival does not have to do with the quantity of organizations joined, but the quality; and the level of your student’s involvement can make all the difference between looking good in a job interview and looking like a fool.

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