I never found my niche in high school. I joined the competitive speaking club, but I hated both speaking and competing. I did it just to see my friends and maybe improve my presentation skills. My high school boasted about having nearly a hundred clubs — but in the end, a lot of them were just friends putting a title to their group to get loopholes around certain high school rules about loitering.
When I came to the University of Iowa, the number of events and clubs offered was nearly overwhelming as a naive freshman. I spent most of my OnIowa! week — the freshman orientation period — traveling from event to event, getting mud on my knees from ultimate frisbee, and spelunking through the Iowa Memorial Union. As classes started, I shifted my focus from the social part of college to the academic and lost my foothold in the process.
One thing I regret now that I am in my fourth year at Iowa is the lack of extracurriculars I did outside of my major. I interacted with almost all of the literary magazines on campus, but never involved myself with the Anthropology Club because I was not an anthropology major. I didn’t take a class in the field, and I didn’t think I belonged in the club. As it turns out, all you need is an interest in the field and groups will gather you into their arms to show you how they work.
The UI also offers events outside of weekly clubs. Some do not have attendance requirements, so you can come and go as you please. The Campus Recreation and Wellness Center offers Rec After Dark events throughout the year centered around a certain theme. Campus Activity Board offers $3 movies at the IMU later in the academic season, alongside evening events at three residence halls — Mayflower, Currier, and Hillcrest — where you can hang out with friends, earn prizes, and create art.
Student organization events will continue mostly as normal this semester, and masks are strongly encouraged indoors. Many clubs also offer virtual participation options.
Outside of connecting with those in the Hawkeye community, there are many benefits with participating in extracurriculars. Claudette Christinson, a reporter for the Brandon University Journal of Graduate Studies in Education, said that “peer relations, appropriate social conduct, and basic skills for academic achievement” are greatly impacted by extracurricular activities.
The many events the UI offers are not just for show or for certain clubs to brag about how involved they are with the university. It is to promote the growth of the students through community, the arts, and shared interests. It’s the easiest way to interact with the UI on a social aspect, rather than through academics.
To find more events and clubs, the Events Calendar lists the main events happening around campus, After Class focuses on entertainment for students, and Engage is where all the information of registered clubs at the University is located.
College is a time to try new things outside of your comfort zone. Let the UI help you.
Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.