By Kaitlynn Tedrick
Club participation has long been a tradition in the college experience. However, students are growing busier with their academics; could the growing pressure on academic achievement dampen the college club experience? Or does it depend on the type of college attended, a four-year university versus a community college?
College of the Canyons’ students, along with most community college undergraduates, tend to have the “faster is better” mentality. That is, believing that community colleges serve as a quick way to get their associates, or to transfer out, without landing themselves in massive debt.
High schools and community colleges all over California have multiple fast-track programs to get students in and out as fast as possible. So, does this attitude adhere to extracurriculars as well, causing students to scrap them all together?
“I think oftentimes people don’t get involved because they are busy with other things, they don’t think they can fit it into their schedule,” said Evette May, co-president of COC’s environmental club on campus, Hands on Earth. “In actuality, clubs do not really take up much of your time and are a good environment to relax from other things going on in your life.”
Hands on Earth members partake in club hikes, promote biodiversity on and off campus, manage and build bird baths and houses, upkeep the native garden on campus and tend to the campus garden, which provides food for the school’s cafeteria. They also partake in some field trip events, such as visiting landfills to view their workplace practices and attending beach clean-ups.
All events are optional for students, and there is no penalty for not attending.
COC has 80 campus clubs, with new ones being started every semester, like the AudioMind Hip Hop Club or the Society of Hispanic Engineers.
In addition to a lack of clubs themselves, community colleges also suffer from a lack of participation in the ones they do have. “We tend to lose students throughout the semester”, said May. “and out of all of our members, maybe like seven or eight will actually show up to the events.”
In addition to student’s evasion of club involvement, it should also be considered that clubs suffer from a lack of publicity, whether that be the club’s responsibility or College of the Canyons’.
“I didn’t really get involved because I didn’t know about a lot. I didn’t know if there were any clubs that would interest me,” said a 20-year-old COC student.
An average California four-year university such as CSUN has 300 student clubs and organizations. CSUN’s website states that, “Getting involved in a student club or organization is effortless and can definitely enhance your overall experience.”
CSUN students and alumni seem to believe that clubs can enhance your knowledge on a specified major.
“I was in part of my major’s club, FSA, or Food Science Association and I probably would not have been in it if it was not for my major,” said Vincent Buhay, CSUN alumni.
Current CSUN students share the same ideal.
“I am in a club known as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and also joined an organization for my sorority for three semesters, Phi mu,” said Nicole Yang, CSUN student. “A lot of my friends are in different clubs from their majors, like HASA (Health Admin Student Association). There are club meet events every semester, and a lot of clubs host events separately. When you walk around campus, there are always clubs setting up tables and fundraising.”
USC, who has “more than 750 clubs and organizations” also seems to be thriving in club involvement. “There is a huge club presence at USC. We have the Involvement Fair every semester” said USC student, Rudy Larrea. The Involvement Fair is an event held at the beginning of each semester, and is an opportunity for clubs to share their expertise and recruit new members.
The overall consensus seems to be that club involvement can greatly improve your experience and expertise in a detailed major.
It is highly likely that there is less club membership present at community colleges compared to four-year universities because the acquisition of a degree is viewed as farther away.
Community college students share less emphasis on student organizations because they feel they can gain their club experience when they transfer to a four-year. University students tend to join clubs they feel will progress them further and up their competitive advantage.
Either that, or they are truly interested in their major, and thus, equally interested in the club that goes along with it.