What to do:How to Help students make Intentional Choices about co-curricular involvement
Encourage students to be intentional about their university experiences. The first year of college is spent exploring, making connections, and discovering opportunities. As students begin the remainder of the university experience, exploration should continue, however, with each year it should become more and more defined. An intentional discussion can go a long way. When talking with students, inquire about involvement. What do they want their university experience look like? Why did they choose the involvements they mention? How are the involvement opportunities helping them better understand who they are and what they want to contribute to the world upon graduation? These questions will help them to begin looking at the bigger picture.
Discuss how they will connect out-of-classroom experiences with academic interests. Often, academics and the co-curricular experience are viewed as two separate entities. In reality, these areas can work in collaboration and complement each other in a way that can enable your student to develop solid, well-rounded experiences. For example, if your son or daughter is a Psychology major, it makes sense that he or she should become involved in the Psychology Club, participate in internships related to the field, and see speakers and programs about mental health issues. If students struggle with how to make this happen, they should be encouraged to speak with their advisors, the Director of Student Activities, or faculty members within their majors. The EDGE Portfolio program is designed to help students clearly see their involvement and connect classroom concepts to out-of-classroom learning, and is available to all students.
Promote the importance of balancing hard work with time for fun. Research has indicated time and again that a great deal of personal development takes place on campus outside of the classroom. Through interactions with roommates in the residence hall, participation in an intramural sport, time dedicated to organizations, and interactions with faculty and staff, your student has the opportunity to grow and develop in dynamic ways. The next time students appears stressed or overwhelmed, ask what they are doing for fun.
Remember that in many ways your role has now become that of an advisor. Ask informed questions to help your student consider the importance of a defined and intentional BU experience. Engage in ongoing conversations and discussions to allow you to gauge your student’s feelings regarding balance and involvement. Lastly, if students need further assistance, encourage them to reach out to the numerous campus resources available. Following the above guidelines will move your student towards having the skills and experiences needed to be successful after graduation.