By Ashlye Elizondo Vanderworp

What Groups Should I Join in College? 4 Tips

If you’re like me, you’re an overachiever.  

In high school, I was involved in pretty much everything –– choir, swim team, musical, honor societies, volleyball, a business club, and more. But then college happened.  

While there were thousands and thousands of organizations to get involved in at a big state school like mine, I couldn’t be a part of everything, as much as I wanted to try. School was harder. I had less energy from the emotional stress of transitioning to being on my own. I had to be more selective.

I hate to break it to you, but you too are going to have to be selective about what you join in college. College is an incredible time. It’s when you figure out who you really are, maybe more than any other time in life, which is why it’s so important to get involved. But when you see all that’s going to be available to you in college, the whole new world that’s opened to you, it can be overwhelming. So here are some tips to help you figure out what groups to join in college.  

1. Make a List of What You’re Interested In

You’re unique! This is more than just a cute sentiment found in a greeting card or on a Hobby Lobby décor sign. It’s true. You have a unique identity and unique interests. It may be tempting to join the same clubs as your friends from high school. If I would’ve done that, I never would have met some of the best friends I’m still closest to now (let alone, ahem, Jesus).

Write a list of parts of your identity and interests. What's important to you? What are your hobbies? Who do you want to be by graduation? For me, that list included being Latina, music, being a Christian (...sorta), my major, etc. Then, I looked for organizations centered around those things. Most schools have a website listing their orgs, some even with filters. Go through and start researching!

After that, make yet another list. Write down what orgs align with what you’re looking for. Contact them to see how you can check them out as soon as possible. Making that personal contact will help you immensely.

Let me also age myself by saying that you have a greater advantage than I had. Looking at an org’s social media accounts can help you narrow down your list even more. You can find out more about when they meet and what their community is like in a way a website can’t. If they have a presence beyond your campus, look at their national or corporate socials as well.

2. See What Clicks

Now it’s time for the beginning of the school year when you can finally try out the clubs on your list. The energy around campus will be exciting and contagious! If you’re an extrovert like me, you’ll thrive. But if you’re more introverted, you may need to play it smarter, taking breaks when you need to.

An organization is more than just their activities or values. Notice which people you seem to click with the most. Two groups might be similar, but if you don’t feel like you’ll connect with the students in one, it might be a sign that it isn’t a good fit...but do be open and don’t base decisions just on first impressions.

Now, if you’re super organized and not a “feeler” type, taking notes after going to a club meeting might help. Was the org what you expected based on your research? Did it seem like their thoughts and values could stretch and grow you in a good way? Was it your vibe?

3. Commit

I think it will be apparent to you which communities and orgs you click with. So it’s time to say yes! Say yes to attending meetings regularly. Say yes to making this group your friends. Say yes to being open, vulnerable, and committed. Congratulations, these are now your people.

Not scary at all, right? No worries! You don’t have to be a part of this group forever if at any point you feel like you no longer want to be. Remember, extracurriculars are just that. But I encourage you to be committed even if it’s just for a season –– I recommend at least a school year.

When I was a freshman, I was a part of an org for first-generation college students. The staff and students were nice, and I liked the opportunities they gave us. But by my sophomore year, I had multiple leadership roles in my InterVarsity chapter and knew it was time to give something up. What this group was centered around really wasn’t as relevant to the direction I felt like I was going and what I wanted to commit to. So I talked with my leader and thanked him for all I’d gained from the group up to that point. Notice: I didn’t just stop showing up. I didn’t ghost the group. I made it clear what I was doing.

Jesus tells his followers in the Book of Matthew to “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’” Don’t waffle back and forth in your commitment. Don’t go months without being seen at your org meetings. I say, try to attend at least 75% of their activities. And don’t think about how there might be other clubs you’re missing out on. James Choung, InterVarsity’s Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, says we have FOBO, the fear of better options. Make space in your schedule, knowing you can trust the Lord with your schoolwork –– it will get done, and life is more than grades.

4. Grow in Passion

As you commit to different orgs and clubs, be aware of how the Lord is growing you, revealing new things, and moving in and through you through them. Grow in your passion –– whether it’s your passion for Jesus in a Christian community, your passion for the earth in that environmental club, or your passion for dance in that hip-hop troupe. How might God use your passion and presence in these spaces to show others his glory? How might he use this passion to influence your future?

No matter what organizations you join, look for how God might grow you and others in them. He might want to shape you in ways you’d never expect. That's worth way more than being an over-involved, over-committed, overachiever.

Want to learn more about how to survive college? Download our guide here. Want to learn more about how to join InterVarsity on your campus? Sign up here.

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Ashlye works as the Managing Editor for InterVarsity's Communications Team in Madison, Wisconsin. She enjoys deep conversations with friends and adventures with her husband (a Video Producer for InterVarsity) and their corgi, Penny. You can support her ministry here: