How is it that becoming fully involved in student life can have such a positive impact on student satisfaction and academic success?
The National Survey of Student Engagement—a survey measuring student involvement in academic and cocurricular activities—shows that student success is directly linked to student involvement in the institution. In fact, survey results show that the higher the level of student involvement is, the higher student grades are and the more likely students are to reenroll the next semester. All of this seems to translate to satisfaction. The following lists some of the many benefits and rewards that result from active participation in campus and student life.
- Personal interests are tapped: Cocurricular programs and activities encourage students to explore personal interests and passions. As students pursue these interests, they learn more about their strengths and possible career paths. These discoveries can be lasting and life-changing.
- A portfolio of experience develops: Experience with just about any aspect of college life may be relevant to a prospective employer. Is freshman year too soon to be thinking about résumés? Definitely not! If you gain leadership experience in a club, for example, be sure to document what you did so you can refer back to it (you might want to keep track of your activities and experiences in a journal, for instance).
- Fun leads to good feelings: Students typically pursue cocurricular activities because the activities are enjoyable and personally rewarding. Having fun is also a good way to balance the stress of meeting academic deadlines and studying intensely.
- Social connections grow: When students are involved in cocurricular activities, they usually interact with others, which means meeting new people, developing social skills, and being a part of a community. It’s always good to have friends who share your interests and to develop these relationships over time.
- Awareness of diversity expands: The multicultural nature of American society is increasingly reflected and celebrated on college campuses today. You will see this not only in the classroom but also in the cocurricular activities, clubs, organizations, and events. For example, your college might have a Black Student Union, an Asian Pacific Student Union, a Japanese Student Association, a Chinese Student Association, and many others. Having access to these resources gives students the opportunity to explore different cultures and prepare to live, work, and thrive in a vibrantly diverse world.
- Self-esteem grows: When students pursue their special interests through cocurricular activities, it can be a real boost to self-esteem. Academic achievement can certainly be a source of affirmation and satisfaction, but it’s nice to have additional activities that validate your special contributions in other ways.
All in all, being involved in the campus community is vital to every student, and it’s vital to the college, too. It’s a symbiotic relationship that serves everyone well.
The key to getting the most out of college is to take advantage of as many facets of student life as possible while still keeping up with your academic commitments. That’s pretty obvious, right? What may be less obvious is that focusing exclusively on your academic work and not getting involved in any of the rich and diverse cocurricular activities on campus can come at a real price and even hamper your success.