It’s that time of year again. The time when people shove clipboards and pens in students’ faces. The time when balloons, free food, and colorful pamphlets abound. That’s right. It’s recruitment time! Clubs, sororities, and fraternities pop up like dead people during presidential elections. There are just so many, and there are ones that you never even knew existed— the Eta Pi sorority, the Kappa Gamma Ray fraternity, the gaming club, the outdoors club, the fencing club, the people who own ferrets club, the lion club, the tiger club, the bear club. Oh, my! Despite how enticing it is to be part of a group, you have to ask yourself: should I join, or will such a commitment hurt my chances at getting that 4.0 GPA or hinder me from improving my current GPA? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you sign your name to that clipboard.
1. Does the organization truly interest me? If cooking in Dutch ovens doesn’t get your fire going, then don’t join the Dutch oven club. If the thought of playing handbells doesn’t ring a ding your bell, then don’t join the handbell club. Yes, the recruiter who approached you may have seemed nice, but you’re not roped into anything. Remember #4 from my post, “Live Long and Prosper: Creating a College Class Schedule that Won’t Make You Miserable”: you don’t have to anything. If someone is pressuring you to join and you’re not interested, then say, “No, thank you” or “Well, I’ll think about it,” and then walk away. There’s no reason to waste your valuable time attending club meetings about a topic that you could not care less about. If an organization speaks to one of your passions though, then by all means, check it out and see if you fit one another.
2. What kind of time obligations does this organization require from me? I was in a club that had meetings twice a week, group outings at least once a week, events on the weekends, and trips planned for the spring and winter breaks. I made two semesters, and then I was done. It was too overwhelming and it drastically cut into my study time, which made it difficult to keep up my grades and get that 4.0 GPA. When I didn’t show up to some of the events and meetings, and I didn’t go on the trips because I wanted to use those times for studying and for my family, I felt ostracized. I felt like I was an outsider in the group. Ironic, I know. Getting that 4.0 GPA takes time, and you have other commitments as well—family, friends, sleeping, etc. If you think that the club is going to monopolize most of your time and won’t give you enough time to study, then maybe that club isn’t for you.
3. Do the members seem open-minded? By open-minded, I mean are they going to be supportive of your academic goals or are they going to make fun of you and negatively judge you. You have enough going against you in your quest to achieve good grades. You don’t need to subject yourself to people who will say things to you like, “You have no life. All you do is study,” or who will force you to choose between your grades and the club as your number one priority.
4. What have others said about the organization? Ask around and see what the group’s reputation is like. If it’s a heavy partying group . . . eh, it might not be so great for your academic goals. If you hear that the group is made up of students who are pretty academic, then maybe they can give you the scholastic support that you’ll need throughout the semester. For instance, at my college, there were two fraternities that I heard about through talking with my guy friends. One fraternity (I keep saying “fraternity” because frats seem to hate being called “frats”) had actual, designated study sessions where the members would help other members with their homework and with subjects with which they were struggling. Another fraternity was rumored to keep a filing cabinet of tests and answers that professors reused every couple of semesters. I’m not an advocate for cheating, because getting caught means an automatic fail on the exam and possible expulsion from the university. Therefore, if I was a guy looking to rush, I’d definitely have a preference between the two fraternities.
5. Will this organization help me to relax, or will it stress me? In your quest to achieve good grades, you will need to de-stress. If you’re going to use some of your valuable free time on an organization, then make sure that organization will be fun and relaxing for you. Personally, having people run at me and try to tackle me is stressful. Therefore, I didn’t join the rugby club. However, if you find pulverizing people to be relaxing, then maybe that’s a club that you should look into.
6. Will this organization help me with my future goals? If you know your field of study and you have an idea of what you want your career to be, then look for a club that speaks to that. For instance, if you want to be an engineer, then check out the organizations that are engineering-oriented. The club will probably have tools that can help you pursue your dream of becoming an engineer, and it will most likely have members who will be able to help you with your classwork. Bottom line: if the club is geared toward your field of study, then it will probably have resources that will help you achieve the grades that you want.
Overall, look around and have fun. If an organization interests you, then give it a shot. Try not to join too many clubs, because then you will most likely get overwhelmed and you won’t be able to give a fair shot to any of the clubs or to your studying. Remember, you can always leave if you later find out that the organization’s requirements are putting too much stress on you or are hindering your ability to get good grades.
Bonne chance, mes amis!
Have any questions about this blog post, or have questions that you want answered about some other aspect of college and obtaining an awesome GPA? Do you think that I might have missed something? Write it in the comments below, and I’ll give it a go. 🙂