This is an excerpt from the Daily’s 2014 Orientation Issue. To read the rest of the issue, click here.
Chances are at least one adult in your life has explained the importance of “making a big school feel small” by getting involved on campus. While your student organization probably isn’t going to make Michigan “feel small” when you have to get from your dorm room in Markley to your engineering class on North Campus, getting involved can help you create a close community of friends. Michigan has more than 1,000 student organizations, so there’s likely a group that fits your interests. But with so many groups, how can you possibly find the one for you? That’s what FestiFall is for — one day in September when hundreds of student organizations set up tables in the Diag to give students information about their club.
Festifall is helpful, but can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. You should research a few organizations that you think you may be interested in on MaizePages beforehand, and make sure to find those. Be open to new organizations that you may never heard of as well. If you think you may be interested in an organization, sign up for their e-mail list and attend their first mass meeting. It’s okay if you end up going to four or five — you’ll probably never have more free time to explore different organizations than you do during the beginning of your first semester, and you can always request to be removed from an e-mail list later if you decide not to join.
There’s a slew of reasons to join an organization, be it personal and professional development, or the purely social aspects. While making friends is important, it may also be helpful to look at groups that will help further your academic and professional goals. Below are a few examples of organizations that can be helpful at acclimating students to campus life.
Most people quit their favorite sport after they leave high school, but if you’re like me, that wasn’t an option. Sports teams foster close friendships, camaraderie and the opportunity to travel to other colleges to compete. Club sports tend to be more competitive than intramural, and some have try-outs. However, they give you a close group of friends on campus and help you stay active during college. Michigan offers dozens of teams in everything from volleyball and lacrosse to sailing and polo. If you miss any of the club sports at FestiFall, you can contact the club sports organization directly for more information.
Computer Programming and Entrepreneurship
Technology is an important sector in our ever-changing global economy, and many of the most innovative apps, programs and websites have begun on college campuses. There are several organizations that can help young coders develop their computer programming talent, network with other people of similar interests and convene to share ideas and skills. Some groups of interest are MHacks and the Creator’s Co-Op. MHacks has held the largest student hackathon ever in areas like the Big House and downtown Detroit. Students interested in the 24- or 48-hour mad dash to code and create the latest program should keep their eye out for the next hackathon.
Professional Greek Life
Many students come to college with professional goals in mind, but a less clear idea of how to achieve them. Michigan has several professional sororities and fraternities — many of which are co-ed. Business fraternities will help freshmen prepare their Ross applications, edit essays and study for prerequisites like Economics 101. Pre-Law fraternities and sororities will help students choose relevant classes and prepare for the LSAT. They may also hold talks from prominent lawyers to inspire and give direction to students. These organizations are just as social as they are professional and provide students with close friendships and mentors. Rush tends to be competitive, but if you attend events for several different organizations, you may find a group that fits your interests.
Michigan is known for being an political and activist-oriented campus. If you are looking for political engagement, debate and volunteer opportunities, you have plenty of choices. You may want to check out not only the College Democrats and College Republicans, but also other groups. Michigan has the Young Americans for Freedom, a Libertarian organization, the Michigan Political Union, a group that debates political issues, as well as several organizations focused on international politics. There is a very active Model United Nations club, which hosts a conference for about 550 high school students, as well as other groups committed to furthering the mission of the United Nations on campus. There are also organizations that do service work and promote a variety of causes including women’s rights. College is a great place to learn more about how you can make an impact on society, and joining a politically oriented organization can help you do that.
Student publications are a great way to improve your writing skills. They are not only helpful for students considering a fields like journalism, but can be a great experience for people of all majors, especially fields like politics, media, law, education, marketing and public relations. Many publications also have a business team that sells advertisements and markets the paper. There are many publications on campus, including SHEI, a fashion magazine, the Gargoyle and the Every Three Weekly humor publications, The Michigan Review, a conservative publication, the Michigan Journal of International Affairs, which covers international issues, and The Michigan Daily, a campus newspaper that publishes pieces in print and online covering a wide array of news, sports, arts and opinion topics.
Michigan offers organizations that allow students to volunteer and help their community. These include Alternative Spring Break, volunteering in Detroit or working at shelters in Washtenaw County. There are service fraternities, most of which are co-ed, which provide students with opportunities to serve their community. Circle K, a student service group sponsored by Kiwanis International, organizes a wide array of service and social events for its members, which are often open to non-members as well.