By Samantha Armstrong/ AS Graduate Advisor

As a new academic year sets in, I am reminded by all the new students on campus that the college experience does not end at the classroom door. The excitement and energy on campus is impossible to dismiss. As I am taken back to my own undergraduate career, the passion I have for everything associated with college life is renewed. As a graduate student in the Student Affairs Program, helping students and my own peers take advantage of college life at all levels is not just a hobby, it is my career path. With this in mind, I will hopefully be contributing to the AS Review in a way that encourages you, the Western student, to enhance the knowledge you receive in class by getting involved in our campus community and developing your skills as a leader.

According to the Montana State University Extension Service (2005), students involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to become leaders, more willing to complete tasks, more willing to voice opinions, and more likely to have annual incomes of more than $50,000. Granted, this is only one study, but research has continued to show that student involvement in extracurricular activities can play a key role in personal advancement across the board. Extracurricular activities are also a good way for individuals to explore social, political, and career interests on a college campus that strives to foster intellectual advancement in a safe learning environment.

I would argue that extracurricular activities help us, as human beings, not only gain experience in a variety of areas but grow and feel a connection to the community we live in. I have learned from personal experience that one is able to learn cooperation, teamwork, and time management through participation. The same goes for being a club member or officer, where one has the ability to not only follow an outside passion but experience problem solving and communication techniques with others from all walks of life. In thinking about this, I am always astounded to recognize just how applicable being involved in extracurricular activities is to the working world. At any point in one’s life, extracurricular activities can help one discover hidden talents, meet people they might not otherwise meet, and learn about things outside their own scope or standpoint. After all, we do not all come from the same cookie cutter, so what better way to learn about one another than in a fun setting where a common interest or value is the reason for being there?

So, the question is: which activities should we choose for ourselves? Should one look at getting involved in activities that stem from talents already possessed, or reach out and discover something new? While I cannot answer this question for you, I can advise you to feel around for your best fit. Attend a few meetings or events put on by an organization that piques your interest. You don’t have to join if you don’t want to. College is a time for exploration, and a place where we each have the opportunity to discover what makes us tick. My best advice to any student is to just look around and breathe it in, taking full advantage of all that the collegiate environment has to offer you.

I leave you with this: if you are interested in finding out more about involvement opportunities or all the student run clubs and organizations on campus please check out our website at http://www.as.wwu.edu/ or come into the AS Student Activities Center on the 4th floor of the Viking Union. You may also give us a call at 650-2489.