As a freshman, I was completely overwhelmed with the variety and number of organizations that I could become a part of during my years at Lehigh. I remember writing my name on contact list after contact list during the activities fair on the first day of classes, mostly because I wanted all of the free stuff that clubs and organizations were giving away (shh!). As I started to get emails from these organizations, I began crossing ones off my list as I found out more about their missions, goals and commitments levels. I knew that I wanted to try many new things, but at the same time I didn’t want to overwhelm myself too much by spreading myself too thin. In an effort to not influence you sign up for certain clubs or programs, I am not going to include the names of activities that I was involved with during my Lehigh career, this is, after all, YOUR Lehigh experience to shape!
I applied to a few programs, and after I was accepted to several, and after joining some other activities, I realized that some of these extracurricular activities were just not for me, even ones that I had participated in during my high school years and loved. I told myself that I would not quit something the minute I realized that it was not for me, and one club in particular sticks out in my mind. At the time, I dreaded each meeting time, but by sticking it out, I met one of my best friends and to this day, we still reminisce about the interesting experiences that that group brought to our Lehigh careers.
There were other organizations that I joined, that I enjoyed the minute I walked into the first meeting I attended, and knew from that moment that I wanted to become more involved as I developed as a college student. I will leave you with my top seven tips or thoughts for making the most out of your Lehigh experience.
- Sign up for a wide variety of clubs, groups and organizations. Apply or tryout for at least one program or activity. (I found that the application process made me appreciate the value of the organizations that I applied to throughout the course of my time at Lehigh.) Include a mix of things you know you enjoy already and things that you are interested in learning more about. Remember: this is your time to try new things!
- Give things a chance before you decide if you like something or not. Everything will be overwhelming in the beginning, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or take a minute to stand back and observe the dynamics of an organization.
- Get to know upperclassmen who are leaders, whether their title reflects their leadership, or not. They know the inner workings of their clubs and programs, and were once in your shoes.
- Volunteer! Lehigh has so many wonderful volunteer opportunities for students, and by participating in these events you will meet new people, learn about yourself and even about some other things to get involved with at while you’re at Lehigh. Not only will you learn about Lehigh from a different perspective, you will also learn about Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley, where you will call home for four years.
- Network. As cliché as this sounds, it is so important to get to know the people that surround you at Lehigh, whether it is fellow undergraduate students, graduate students, coaches, professors, professional staff members, alumni, etc. You never know who might be a great connection for you in the future, and having Lehigh as a common ground is invaluable.
- Departments across campus are always bringing famous and interesting speakers and presentations to campus. Make sure to attend a few of these events each semester, and take advantage of these opportunities to expand your knowledge of various topics. Challenge yourself and attend a lecture about a topic you are not very familiar with.
- Have fun! When I graduated from Lehigh, my friends and I wished that we had taken even more advantage of the diverse events that take place at Lehigh. You will look back on the times that you took a 10 minute break from studying for 4 o’clock exams more than the 10 hours you spent in the library—don’t get me wrong, studying is extremely important, but remember to balance it out with some fun!
Megan Hanks, Class of 2011, has been keeping busy since graduation with an internship in public relations and plenty of traveling. She recently moved to Philadelphia for a new job and is looking forward to getting more involved with organizations and volunteer opportunities in the city.
Want to hear more? Here’s what our panelists say about getting involved on campus…