Balance work and play when joining RSOs

By Isabella Jackson, Supplements editor

As a student, you have many options when looking into registered student organizations. Some prepare members for future careers, while others focus on having the most fun while in college. The majority of RSOs fall somewhere in the middle; they require work, but members have a lot of fun.

While attending Quad Day to get involved on campus, looking for a balance that will be beneficial during your time at the University is important because joining RSOs can boost your resume, put you in contact with students with similar passions and give you skills that will benefit you long into the future.

For example, there are pre-professional organizations that focus on helping members get into graduate programs such as medical school or law school. These groups can provide mentors in the application process and a support system when the process gets difficult.

Additionally, when joining groups based on academic goals, some of your friends from the group may end up in your classes. This is valuable when you are sick and need someone to get notes for you or during final exams when you want to start a study group before an exam.

Other organizations are focused on teaching members how to land the best jobs after graduation. Business organizations prepare members to interview for internships and put them in touch with alumni in their fields.

RSOs will consume a large amount of your time and mental energy outside of classes. While it is important to prepare for the career you want, if all of your time is focused on work, you may find yourself burned out by the middle of the semester.

I thought that I could plan my future to the tee by joining as many groups as possible to make my resume rock solid. However, I found that after coming home from a long day of classes, the last thing I wanted to do was more work for an organization that was supposed to be fun.

Somewhere in the process of preparing for my future, I forgot to sign up for groups that were fun in the present.

Once I had a better balance of fun and work in my life, I was so much happier. I have learned that I am willing to put forth more effort in groups that I enjoy. The fact that they have taught me skills I may use in the future is just an added bonus.

On Quad Day, look for groups that will help you professionally, but don’t forget to get information on clubs or teams that will be a fun way for you to de-stress and enjoy your time at the University.

If you were an athlete in high school or want to try a new sport, look for information on the club teams and intramural sports offered on campus. A club team will require more of a time commitment but will allow you to compete at a higher level and get to know members of the team better.

Intramural sports are a great way to reduce stress and stay healthy with a low time commitment. The season for each sport is short, and I find myself looking forward to the weekly games.

If sports are not your favorite way to relax, many RSOs provide other ways to relax.

October Lovers is a group that puts on events throughout the month of October, including a barn dance and a bonfire. It also provides buses to take members to Curtis Apple Orchard and a corn maze.

The University has a multitude of student groups that focus on the arts, so if your passion lies in theater, dance or music, there are options for you to participate, even if you are not majoring in the subject.

The Penny Dreadful Players is campus’s oldest student-run theater company. It provides a space for student playwrights and actors to showcase their talents. A cappella groups such as the Xtension Chords and Girls Next Door perform on campus throughout the year and even face off against groups from other states in competitions.

Although my talents definitely do not qualify me to be on a stage, I love watching these students perform throughout the year. The shows generally cost less than seeing a movie, and I get to watch super talented people. At this point, I’m almost a groupie.

If you are looking for the warm fuzzy feeling of helping others, service organizations help those in the Champaign-Urbana community and beyond. The Illini 4000 is a group of students who ride across the country on bicycles to raise awareness and money for cancer. The team trains and raises funds to be prepared for the long trip in the summer.

The students attending Etc. Coffeehouse raise money for the Wesley Food Pantry by doing one of my favorite things – drinking coffee! The proceeds from the fair-trade coffee support the food pantry, which serves the local area. Students often volunteer at the food pantry because it is located on campus and is easily accessible, even without a car.

Lastly, on Quad Day, keeping your options open is important. Get information on multiple groups so that after attending information sessions, auditions or the first few meetings, you are able to accurately judge which ones you would like to continue participating in. Don’t expect that the groups you join the first week will be the ones you stick with until senior year. As your interests change and new opportunities cross your path, you will find your place on the big campus.

Student organizations are a great way to meet new friends, advance your academic and professional goals and have a lot of fun. On Quad Day, remember to balance resume boosting with enjoying your time in college. 

Isabella is a junior in LAS.

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