This phrase is something you will likely hear all the time, and student organizations are a major contributor to the social scene. But among 456 registered organizations on campus, how do you know which one is the right fit for you?
You can divide organizations into endless categories: academic, social, religious, cultural, art & music, recreational, service groups, sports and more. The political organizations run the gamut, including progressive Deeds Not Words, conservative Turning Point USA and No Labels, a neutral organization that aims to bridge the gap between different groups of people. There are also multiple cultural and religious clubs for various ethnicities and religious denominations, along with skill-building clubs like the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Photography Club, policy-based organizations like the Model UN, academic clubs like the Pre-Dental Association and special interests clubs for like swimming, fencing or video games. I recommend exploring multiple clubs as a freshman so you can commit to a few organizations later in college.
Whether or not you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it is always beneficial to do some research beforehand. Check out the Student Organization Center website for a list of organizations or look through Discord servers in the UTD Student Hub and note down organizations that pique your interest, particularly ones that offer programs for underclassmen or hold events throughout the semester. Alternatively, you can attend club fairs or events hosted by the SOC to learn more about what each organization does. Specifically, the Freshman Orientation Fair will occur at the Visitor Center throughout the summer on June 2, June 9, June 13, June 16, June 23, June 27, June 30, July 14 and Aug. 16. This fair is a great time to talk to students in these organizations and explore all your options. The Mercury will be having its own booth at this event, so feel free to stop by and check us out!
If you’re still not sure, you can either reach out to upperclassmen who are involved in various clubs or try attending a few meetings. Some organizations will list their meeting times on the Comet Calendar or on their Discord server. Keep in mind that you’re not obligated to commit to any organization in the beginning — as a freshman, you have lots of time to explore your interests and be involved on campus, so use that to your benefit. And if it comes down to it, you can always create your own organization.
Remember that being a part of a student organization requires time and commitment — you are expected to attend meetings and participate in events, so take your time to decide what you’re truly drawn to after you’ve done some exploring. Once you’re done sampling organizations, I recommend sticking to anywhere from one to three organizations each semester. After all, you want to be able to balance coursework and extracurriculars.
Joining a student organization is a great way to develop leadership and communication skills and gain experience for future internships, jobs and higher studies. Additionally, you can create memories and lifelong friendships — and we can’t forget the free food!
Overall, don’t be afraid to try something new. College is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone and joining a student organization is a great way to get involved and make the most of your college experience. Whether it be the American Medical Student Association, Swordfighting Guild, or even The Mercury, there’s something for everyone, so take your time to explore your options and find a few that are right up your alley.