It was a dark and stormy night the day I joined my first student organization.
Well, maybe not dark and stormy, but that’s how all good stories are supposed to start, right? However, it was Youngstown, Ohio, so it was completely possible.
The first student organization I joined was the YSU Dance Club, advertised on an orange quarter sheet flier on the corner of a residence hall front desk.
Not all students get sucked in by fliers, and most pass them up pretty easily—the fact that I remember the color and size of this flier ten years later is, to me, completely weird. The thing is when it comes to getting students engaged the personal appeal from an involved party, whether it be a student, alum, or administrator, often works best.
For instance, in my first year of college, the advisor of our Residence Hall Association was going door to door in the Leadership community and in some other Residence Hall spaces. She was asking if people would be interested in joining a student organization doing these fantastic events and providing great opportunities. They were also going to this conference called CAACURH, and wouldn’t you love to get involved? It’ll be a free trip, you’ll get to meet people from all over the region.
I didn’t go. However, when my friends came back gushed about what they learned, the awards they’d won, and encouraged me to come to the next meeting—I had to go. Before I knew it, I was chairing the largest event for that organization and was being elected president for the following year.
Since that year, I’ve encouraged the students I’ve advised using the personal appeal—especially for students who aren’t already in student organizations.
One of our goals is getting our under-involved students invested—in part for their own wellness and in part for retention. Personal appeals help find these students. We simply need to reach out, get to know the interests of these students (if we don’t already) and seize these opportunities.
What do you do on your campus to help students get involved and what worked for you?