By: Meg Cowan (Guest Blogger)
The best advice I can give to anyone who is going to college is get involved. Get involved on campus, especially freshman year; whether your child is going to a college that half their high school will also be attending or if your child is going to a college on the other side of the country, getting involved with an on-campus club or association is the best way to meet new people. That’s right, NEW people. College is not about hanging out with old friends per se, I think college is about expanding our comfort zones and broadening our horizons, which usually means trying something new. College is a time to try new things and meet new people, because this helps us kids figure out who we are. My freshman year, I joined the Residence Hall Association and became a coxswain for the Crew Club (rowing). Through these extracurriculars, I met my closest friends and all of the roommates I will be living with in the fall. Also, in terms of the post-college world, companies don’t look at just GPAs anymore, but focus on what college students are involved in.
It is scary to go up to someone who looks cool and introduce yourself, but I’d rather introduce myself and find out if they are actually cool than face a missed opportunity and kick myself for not having introduced myself. Also, this is good networking practice, another helpful thing in the post-college world.
Some advice I’ve received about clubs was that if I wasn’t enjoying it, I should not do it anymore because, “College is too short.” There are so many opportunities and activities to get involved with during the four short years of college that if you aren’t enjoying something, you shouldn’t continue to pursue it because doing so would be a waste.
As parents, being supportive of the extracurricular your child wants to try in college is the best possible thing for them. However, extracurriculars can be expensive; the most expensive example being Greek Life. If your kid wants to join some crazy expensive club, tell them you’ll split the bill with them; and encourage them to get a job. This will teach them financial responsibility and will help them figure out if they really enjoy that particular extracurricular or not. Also, tell your child to ask about financial aid. I’ve found that a lot of clubs with expensive dues are willing to set up a payment plan or a merit/talent based scholarship for dues.
Just voicing your support and encouraging your student to try something out will go a long way. College students make mistakes. When this happens, it’s up to parents to decided to guide them through or leave them to fend for themselves.
College is a big, new, scary, and exciting place. My motto when it comes to trying new things in college is, “If makes you look up from your phone, stop scrolling, or makes you have a question, find out more and try it out.”