What does student involvement mean? Why should higher ed professionals be concerned about a student’s campus involvement?
Getting involved as college or university student means more than being an active member of a club, organization, or honor society. Student involvement also includes a student’s use of campus services and they’re becoming knowledgeable about campus issues.
As a freshman at my undergraduate campus, I wasn’t involved in anything whatsoever. I didn’t participate in any clubs or intramural sports teams, and I didn’t hold a job on campus. Ironically, when I didn’t participate in anything, I had the worst semester, GPA-wise.
I found that I actually earned better grades when I had less time on my hands. Less time! Through joining a club and working on campus during my sophomore year, I found that I began to develop a stronger sense of time management. With less free time I began scheduling myself more strictly and focused on my studies whenever I had the chance. I found having less time was better for me because it made every second of time much more valuable, and wasting my valuable time with video games was no longer an option.
My story is confirmed by research from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Their research suggested that not only are students likely to perform better in the classroom if they’re involved with activities outside of class, but they’re also more likely to become more invested in the university and re-enroll the following semester.
Regardless of your specific student services position, we all have a role to play in helping students recognize the benefits of campus involvement. Consider implementing the following ideas to increase and improve student involvement on your campus:
Design a communication plan to inform students about clubs and events on campus.
How you communicate with your students is almost as important as what you communicate. Make sure you’re reaching students where they are. Post on social media platforms, advertise on sites that your students frequent, send emails and text messages and if your school has one, post on the campus mobile app.
Design simple, yet informative advertisements.
Explain the benefits of the event or service you’re advertising. Make the reason students should pay attention prominent and platform specific. For example, if you’re posting on Twitter, use relevant hashtags.
Be genuine, show students that they,(as an individual), matter to you.
Students may be more likely to consider being active on campus if they trust the source of information.
Talk to students as equals. Treat them like adults and take their issues seriously. Good reputations for service will encourage other students to seek you out.`
Actively communicate with your institution’s Student Government Association.
See what their goals for the current academic year are and whether or not you and your office’s services can help them reach these goals. Student governments have a mandate to help their fellow students. Use this organization to spread the message about the benefits of getting involved.
Honestly, I feel the simplest way to encourage student involvement on campus is to make this concept a priority. Often I think student involvement may be strong or weak at a particular institution simply because it’s not a priority. If we prioritize this concept rather than simply adding it to our already full agendas, then perhaps our efforts will have double the reach.
As someone who participated in clubs and other extracurricular activities through most of my career, I can confidently say my only regret was not getting involved sooner. It’s never too early, or too late to get involved. So let’s strive to encourage and increase student involvement on campus.