Beyond the Classroom: My Experience with College Clubs

There are some people who look back on college with fondness while others would rather forget those years, even if those pesky college loans won’t allow it.

Like anything in life, the college experience really amounts to what you, the individual, make of it. As a student at the University of Miami, I have really tried to enrich my experience through participation in school clubs and organizations.

As an incoming freshman, I took a course called "The UM Experience." I got one credit for attending a laid-back class that's curriculum focused on becoming acquainted with the campus and all the university has to offer.

My instructor stressed, above all else, that there are hundreds of student organizations and that becoming active in at least one was the most beneficial thing we could do with our time at UM. At first I was resistant to the suggestion as I was shy and unsure of which of the countless organizations would be most worthwhile for me. Should I join a political group to help support local campaigns? I value the democratic process. Nah … what about a religious organization? I was never very spiritual at home but at least it would be a niche I could fall into and I’d get a free meal every Saturday night. No… Maybe the campus environmental group? I care about the trees and polar bears.

Eventually I decided on the Pre-Law Association. At the time, I was rather certain that a law degree was in my future. Not only did I want the option of adding the group to my resume, but I also wanted to make friends with peers that would most likely be in a majority of my classes. The law club did a lot of community service and at each meeting a different speaker from the law community shared their insight. I was even hired as an assistant at a local law firm as a result of my association with the group. Ultimately, my participation in the club provided the best benefit of all; I realized I was not as passionate or as interested in law as the other members. This was a glaring red flag and I knew wholeheartedly that law was not a field I could see myself pursuing. I certainly would not consider my participation in the group futile. School groups and organizations are not only helpful in deciding what you do like, but also what you don’t like. I’m grateful I found out while still in college rather than spending time and money pursuing J.D. just to realize I didn’t like the profession.

After the pre-law club, I was still undecided in my major and taking general education courses when I stumbled upon a flyer for the campus television station. I had always been interested in media (or at least watched a lot of television) and decided to attend the general meeting advertised by the poster. The meeting described each of the seven various shows the program had to offer and I was immediately drawn to the late-night comedy option. I wanted to work on set and even write some material but with no prior experience in television, I thought I'd be rejected by an elite group of seasoned vets. However, the great thing about college groups and clubs is that everyone is in the same boat, eager to learn, gain experience, and make friends with other members. Unlike the pre-law club, this one felt right.

I switched my major to television production and have not looked back since joining the group. I branched out beyond the comedy show and dabbled in the entertainment magazine show and news program, finally figuring out which niche in television I preferred. I even worked my way up to Station Manager, the highest student rank at the station responsible for overseeing each show as well as expanding the station. This position not only provided another resume booster, but also provided insight into the management aspect of the television industry. What is most striking about my experience with college clubs is the fact that my extra-curricular activities have served as the basis for my social life. Those who join the same group inherently share at least one major interest in common so it is not surprising that friendships are formed organically. If the members pursue their interest after graduating, those friendships are maintained. In my case, the entertainment industry is a small one in which networking is essential. Participating in UMTV has allowed me to establish a contact base for future potential employees, employers, and business partners.

When I look back at my college experience, I will be able to feel confident that I utilized the greatest resource offered. College groups and organizations provided more than just a line on my resume. Practical experience, insight into my likes and dislikes, and social networking are all invaluable aspects to spending just a little extra time and effort while earning my degree.

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