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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Sarah Blugis: For freshmen, a healthy level of commitment to clubs means striking a balance

With the hundreds of chances both on and off campus to get involved in different groups and causes, freshman year can quickly turn into a balancing act.

Some students dive into too many activities, becoming over-committed and overwhelmed. Others who are too intimidated to join a single group, which for many, will sabotage their overall GW experience.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Sarah Blugis

The solution to navigating the University’s more than 400 student organizations is finding a happy middle ground between over- and under-involvement. That advice might sound obvious, but hear me out.

Your first semester is the time to sign up for all those email lists and drag your roommates to meetings that don’t particularly interest them. You should look outside of your comfort zone, too, because you don’t know what you’ll find. I never would have realized that I wanted to spend a spring break doing community service if I hadn’t gone to that first Alternative Breaks meeting.

On the other hand, eager freshmen should be careful to avoid over-booking themselves. If you go to too many meetings, you might never connect with any one group. If you hone in on only one student organization, you’ll miss out on all the rest.

But getting involved doesn’t have to be so black and white: You can have the best of both worlds. To find your place and stay well-rounded, you have to dive into one or two groups while still participating in others.

Maybe that philosophy seems contradictory, but it works.

When you come to college, test out as many clubs and organizations as you can. Go to any meeting that interests you even slightly. The beginning of your freshman year is supposed to be a blur of activity. Keep up with your classes, obviously, but trust me, it doesn’t take long to realize what needs to be prioritized and what can be sidelined.

By the end of the fall semester, you should discover a couple of favorites – clubs with meetings to which you look forward, people whose company you enjoy and activities that sustain your interest. These one or two extracurriculars should be your focal points.

Prioritize those clubs. Never miss a meeting, make close friends and work your way up to a leadership role. But it’s also important to maintain a presence in a few other groups you enjoy. That way, you can develop a broad network at GW and curate a variety of interests.

For example, a student might be on the board of the College Democrats and a prominent figure in the Feminist Student Union, but still give tours as a Student Admission Representative a few times a week and work backstage for plays and musicals.

All of that networking and responsibility may sound a little daunting, but medium-sized commitments to a few organizations actually take up about the same amount of time as running a large group by yourself.

This combination not only allows you to explore a wide array of passions, but also secure multiple friend groups – the real point of student organizations, after all. And if you ever need some change, your friends who are involved in other groups can help you gain access to those other communities as well.

Use your first year as an opportunity to cast a wide net. Once you’re a sophomore or junior, it can be more difficult to find new circles of friends. If you join several groups your freshman year and lose interest in a few along the way, that’s OK. You will still have your favorites, and you will benefit from the accomplishments you made in the long term.

When you find something that you love, go for it. Do as much as you can as a freshman. But remember that the University has a variety of clubs. In your search for your place at GW, it’s OK to pick a few.

Sarah Blugis, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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