Have you ever thought of the short- and long-term benefits of doing something you enjoy from an academic perspective? While extracurricular activities are optional, there are many benefits to being an active participant in them, particularly as a college student.
Southern Utah University has always been an avid promoter of extracurricular activities. The SUU Student Association, the university’s student government organization, and its Student Programming Board, the on-campus event planning group, regularly hold events and club fairs that advertise a variety of opportunities for every student’s interests, cultural engagements and hobbies.
Clubs can improve your personal well-being
Students typically join clubs and organizations to participate in an interest they already enjoy, such as video or board games, music or various forms of art. However, participating in a fun hobby also helps students with their mental health and personal fulfillment.
Extracurriculars give students time to step away from rigorous study. By engaging in an activity that does not require as much mental concentration, students can recharge their brains and return to their work invigorated.
“Let’s be realistic,” said Amber Sui, an SPB assistant director and intern for the Health and Wellness Center. “No one can work on just homework and studying without somehow just shutting down towards the end and not giving your best effort. Psychologically, you need to take breaks.”
When students dedicate time to something they enjoy, they are able to build their motivation. That drive will not only help them in their hobbies but also in their academics and other life pursuits.
“[Involved students] appreciate school for more than just homework, and I have seen the passion start inside them,” said Courtney Glad, the SUUSA vice president of clubs. “I watch them go out and make friends, start initiatives and have something to care about that keeps them going through the hard times.”
Clubs can build a sense of community and belonging
Clubs and extracurricular activities also give students a chance to interact with their peers outside of a classroom setting. They can find people who share the same interests and create meaningful connections.
“People go [to clubs and events] to be with their friends,” said Sui. “They know they’re part of that community.”
Plus, most organizations require creativity and team collaboration, which encourages students to develop and strengthen social skills. While there is a stigma against group projects amongst college students because of the workload imbalance, people in clubs participate because they want to. By working together on a project based on their interests and passions instead of academics, students can develop team building skills and enjoy working with others without the pressure of getting a good grade.
However, some students don’t feel comfortable enough to join a club because they feel shy or are insecure in social situations, especially when interacting with strangers.
“It might seem scary at times, but just remember there are a lot of people here on this campus that are looking out for you,” said Glad. “The second you take a step forward, people will be there to scoop you up and make sure that you feel as involved as possible and as loved as possible. I know that because I’ve experienced that, and I’ve seen it happen with other students. It’s scary to take the first step, but after you take the first step, people will take you from there.”
Clubs can help you develop life skills
A lesser-known but no less important benefit to being involved is the positive impact it will leave on you after you graduate from college.
Because clubs usually take place outside of regular school hours, students can develop lifelong time management skills in order to balance classes, homework and their extracurriculars.
“You have to be more detailed and intentional with how you’re using your time,” Sui said.
By participating in clubs, students can also enhance skills they already have or develop new ones, especially in areas outside of their field of study. By widening their areas of experience, they become more flexible toward the different situations life might throw at them.
“Part of college is to be more of a well-rounded person,” Sui added. “You can excel at this one area in life, but life isn’t going to just be studying. You have to learn how to socialize and work with a team and be a professional.”
These types of skills are especially useful to students trying to enter the workforce or graduate schools, who seek out collaborative, adaptive and versatile individuals for their programs. Involvement in clubs and organizations can build up a good resume, and students can reap the benefits even years later.
Clubs can enhance college life
Being an active participant in clubs and extracurricular activities has no shortage of benefits for a student. They are able to create a balance in their life, enjoying both work and play, rigor and relaxation, socializing and self-discovery.
“School is not everything,” Sui said. “Most of the college experience is getting to know people and getting to know yourself more. You should experience it.”
Where to find a club for you
- Visit T-Bird Connection through your SUU myPortal account under Resources. It lists school clubs, events and contact information. If there isn’t a club that encompasses your interests, T-Bird Connection also allows you to register your own club.
- SUUSA hosts themed “Meet the Clubs” events every second Friday of the month in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Ballroom.
- Clubs and organizations self-promote during school and community events such as Paint the Town Red and Forever Red.
- Visit the SUUSA event calendar at www.suu.edu/events.
Article by: Andrea Rodgers
Photos by: Devan Call and Anden Garfield
This article was originally published in the December 2022 edition of the University Journal. Pick up a free copy at any of the stands on the SUU campus.