The Daily Illini

You don’t have to join everything

By Rachael Bolek, Managing Editor for Online

On Quad Day, you’re going to be bombarded with people giving you flyers and asking you to put your email address on their sign-up lists. This can be a great way for you to get familiar with everything the University has to offer. I highly recommend putting your email down for anything you think you’re remotely interested in. However, this doesn’t mean you’re committed that group.

Putting your email address down simply shows you’re interested in what that group does, and it’s a convenient way for you to keep track of every group’s informational meeting. Once you start receiving these emails, which will likely happen a day or so after Quad Day, you should separate the organizations into groups you’re actually interested in joining and groups that were giving out cool stuff if you put your email down. (I recommend unsubscribing from any groups as soon as you know you aren’t interested in them, as the emails will pile up fast.)

Go to all the informational meetings you want to attend. This also isn’t a commitment. These meetings allow you to hear from people in the group about what exactly the group does; Quad Day is a good way to hear a quick pitch from different groups, but these meeting are where you can learn more in-depth about an organization. It’s also your chance to ask questions. You can see how much of a commitment the group will be, learn what your role in the organization will be and talk to people who have been in the group for a long period of time.

But now comes my biggest piece of advice: Don’t join all of these groups.

This may come as a shock to those of you fresh out of doing every extracurricular your high school had to offer. Trust me, this is coming from someone who also did just about anything I could fit into my schedule. But in college, you need to prioritize; it’s not possible to join every group you’re interested in, do well in classes and have a social life. Because of this, I recommend picking only a couple of groups to actually commit to.

Only joining a few groups is surprisingly beneficial. You may think doing more would be better, but when you’re only in a couple of organizations, you can commit more of your time to those groups, rather than spreading yourself thin across numerous groups. You’ll be working harder in the groups you’re a part of, and when it comes time to apply for leadership positions, you could be a strong candidate; people will recognize you because of the time you’ve spent with the group, and they will acknowledge your commitment. If you’re not attending every meeting or event for a certain group, you’re likely to be looked over when it comes to applying for those higher positions.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down what you want to join, think about what will help you in your future. You’re probably going to want to join at least one organization that has to do with your major. This gives you useful experience, and it will make a great addition to your resume. However, don’t only do things for your resume. You should join a group that will help your future, but you should also join something just to have fun. According to the Office of Registered Organizations, the University has over 1,600 RSOs on campus. With that many groups, you’re bound to find something you can join for fun. If what you’re looking for doesn’t exist already, don’t abandon hope: You can start your own RSO.

College is a big change from high school. It’s a lot more work, and the way you schedule your time is entirely different; you’re no longer stuck in the same building from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Your time is your own, and you have to use it wisely. RSOs are a great way to make connections and meet new people, but you have to keep in mind that you also need time to yourself and for your schoolwork, so don’t try to join a ton of different organizations right when you get to the University.

Rachael is a senior in Media.

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