By the truckload they come. New students, returning students, traditional
and nontraditional students Ä almost 40,000 total Ä all coming to this cam-
pus. Some bring almost every belonging they have in the world with them
while others hardly bring enough paper and pens needed for classes. Despite
their diverse needs and feelings, or perhaps because of it, most UA students seem to share a common desire: the desire to get involved on campus.
Why would a student want to spend time on something that doesn't increase bank accounts and doesn't help prepare for upcoming exams?
According to Sarah Barton, the graduate assistant in Leadership Development and Club Recognition, "co-curricular involvement is as important an aspect as classroom learning. It is a great way to meet people, have fun, and build leadership skills."
A student, especially one that is new to campus, can really benefit from joining a club or an organization.
"Being involved with a specific group helps a student feel less intimidated by the large number of students present on campus" Barton said. "If a student can associate with a certain group of individuals, it helps make the transition to university life that much easier."
Alexander Aston, a professor of higher education at the University of California in Los Angeles, agrees that it is very important for students to become involved with as many on-campus organizations as possible.
"Research has proven that students who are involved on campus are more likely to be happy with their experience at college and are more likely to graduate than those who simply go to class," Aston said.
"This seems to be common sense because those students who are involved with different organizations have a built-in support group of peers that they can turn to in times of stress," Aston added.
Fred Knox, a nutrition and sports sciences freshman, agreed with Dr. Aston's research. "Life around here is quite a bit easier if you feel that there are people you can talk to. There are a lot of people here on campus but, if you're walking down the Mall and see someone you
know then that helps a lot to remind you that you aren't alone."
Meghan Donovan, an English and history senior and a member of Phi Lambda Phrateres Service Organization, echoes those sentiments. "I didn't think any other sorority would take me because of my age; the fact I was a senior as well as a transfer student; and the sororities want new blood Ä someone who they can shape in their houses' image and I don't think I could fit into that pattern."
When asked if she thought being a member of Phrateres had benefited her, Donovan answered with an enthusiastic "yes."
"With Phrateres I've met some really good friends and enjoyed the activities. I feel it's been worthwhile because (being involved in Phrateres) is much better than sitting at home on a Saturday night wishing you had something to do" Donovan said.
There doesn't seem to be any doubt that being involved in a club or on-campus organization helps a student find his or her place on campus. But how else can joining a club be beneficial to a busy student?
Barton believes there is much more to being involved than just having fun or meeting new friends. She says that involvement can teach important skills like "time and stress management skills, social interaction skills, management skills, marketing experience, and leadership skills such as organization and initiation of a good meeting and creation of a budget."
Laurie Bracht, a secondary education senior and a Pacesetters volunteer, agrees.
"Joining a club is extremely beneficial because new experiences always have some kind of value. Being involved in Pacesetters has let me meet new people and made me feel like a part of the campus," Bracht said.
Pacesetters is part of the Depart
ment of Student Programs,
which helps students get involved with different organizations on campus as well as recognizing established clubs and organizations.
Many students have been able to become involved successfully, but what does a student do if he wants to become involved but doesn't know what the university has to offer? According to Bracht, Pacesetters would be a good place to start.
"This office has an open door policy . meaning that students can just walk in at any time without an appointment," Bracht said.
Pacesetters also has a complete listing of all recognized clubs on campus with club contact phone numbers. And the University has a wide selection of clubs and organizations to choose from. A student can belong to clubs ranging in topics from The Production of Inventory and Control Society (APICS) to Men's Volleyball Club to Wildlife Society. In addition one can find clubs dealing with most types of majors ranging from Chemistry Club and Microbiology Club to The Society of Physics Students or The Society of Women Engineers.
So what type of club or organization would be best for a student to become involved in? Bracht said that "the student needs to take the initiative and try a lot of different things. Try something you like, try something you don't know if you like Ä it is just as important to find out what you don't like as well as what you do like."
Barton agrees and adds that "it depends on the individual student and what he want out of his involvement. He should find a club that satisfies his interests and what sort of time commitment he is willing to subscribe to. Clubs that help students decide on a career are very important."
Jennifer Michaels, a microbiology freshman and a RHA officer and a member of the microbiology club, agrees saying "they (career clubs) are a great way to throw study groups together and get more in tune with the academic portion of the university. It also helps to meet people who are going through the same hell of classes that you are."
However, it is easy to have too much fun with the club or organization, and it is easy to procrastinate in schoolwork. Students must remember that they are here for academics first and foremost. But there are more disadvantages than just balancing academia and social activities.
Stephen Ballard, a biology freshman, says that "sometimes I want to be by myself or study and they (club members) will call me up or come into my bedroom and wake me up."
Michaels says that "clubs take
up a lot of your time when
you're running between meetings, classes, and office hours, and sometimes I don't feel like I have time to do everything."
"Time management is essential because it is easy to get caught up in the social aspect of the university and forget about the educational aspect. Balancing the social and the educational portions of life can sometimes be difficult," says Bracht.
And sometimes finding that balance is just too much to bother with. Jennifer Heidel, an undeclared sophomore and a member of the Spring Fling graphics staff, says that "aside from getting into Spring Fling free, I don't benefit from it at all."
When time is factored in, some students may not be able to consider clubs as a viable option. Heidel added that "it's very difficult for students who don't live on campus to get involved versus those who do live on campus because of the transit time: you have to leave your house and come to campus, all for just a meeting. It (being involved in a club or organization) may look good on a resume but it is not worth all the trouble."
Jason Wolf, a pre-med junior recently stopped attending his chemistry club and microbiology club meetings because of time constraints.
"I'm carrying 18 units this semester, working part-time at a restaurant, and I'm taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) in April so with all that stuff, who has time to go listen to a speaker talk about something that, nine times out of ten, I'm not particularly interested in?" Wolf said.
When asked why he remained in the clubs, Wolf explained that he has many friends in the clubs who he doesn't get to see any other time.
"It's really easy to meet new friends in clubs that one enjoys being in because everybody who is there wants to be there so there are a lot of similar interests floating around. I just wish that a student could get more than stuff that's for-your-own-edification from a club. When you're as busy as I am, 'for-your-own-edification' doesn't cut it," Wolf said.
Being involved in a club or on-campus organization has different levels of intensity for different students. Some students enjoy being a part of a closed circle of peers, while others would prefer to meet new people in their own way. What works for one student is different for another.
Knox said that "sometimes it is difficult for a student to join a new club, but getting the courage to go to the meetings is probably the hardest part. If you feel better, take a friend with you, but don't chicken out of a club if you think you'll enjoy it. I can't speak for everyone, but in the couple of different clubs that I'm in I know that we always welcome new folks and if we know you're gonna come, it will just give us an excuse to order a couple of pizzas."
The Arizona Daily Wildcat publishes a daily "On Campus" listing which provides times and meeting places of different clubs and on-campus organizations. For a complete listing of all existing clubs and on-campus organizations visit the Pacesetters office in Student Union 101 or call 621-6853.
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