Student groups are an essential part of the college experience

Elizabeth Braaten

If you attend UT, you’re no stranger to the insistent, aggressively friendly students tabling along Speedway and West Mall each day. Armed with shining smiles and an abundance of flyers, these heroes consistently take a stab at persuading you to join their organization in the same amount of time it takes you to look down, put your headphones in and act as if you’re checking your phone.

For college students hustling to and fro, it’s easy to view student groups’ recruiting procedures as another obstacle to overcome on your way to class. But there’s another option.

Joining a student group is one of the best ways to make friends and build your resume. Most importantly, it makes students feel connected within our campus community in new ways, positively enhancing their perception of their time in college. This fall, each UT student should take campus by the horns and get involved with a student organization.

Participation in student groups has been shown to have a positive impact on students’ grades. A 2010 study from Purdue University found that students involved in organizations performed better academically than those who were not. Furthermore, this experience can help students in the professional world.

Eighty-eight percent of employers said that a candidate with a low GPA was more likely to be granted an interview if they were heavily involved in student organizations. These groups allow students to gain leadership experience they may not otherwise have — a crucial component for increased job opportunities.

Finally, involvement in student organizations is a fantastic way to create friendships, which are extremely important in establishing a positive connection to your campus community. At a college with more than 50,000 students, being a part of a smaller organization eases an experience that can otherwise be difficult and intimidating.

“I believe student organizations foster a sense of community to students,” says Lisa Valdez, senior program coordinator for first-year experience at UGS. “By getting involved on campus with a group of university students, they feel more connected to the university itself.”

So instead of turning up the volume on your headphones, make an effort to listen to someone tabling on Speedway or West Mall. Or, if this seems a bit scary, head over to HornsLink, which contains a comprehensive list of all the student organizations on UT’s campus.

The University of Texas is home to more than 1,300 student organizations, with something to suit everyone’s taste.

This semester, take a leap of faith and join one.

Braaten is a international relations and global studies senior from Conroe. She is a senior columnist.