Student Involvement on Campus: Does it really matter?

Spoiler Alert: It does matter!!!

With the start of a new school year comes many questions and curiosities about involvement. Some students wonder how to get involved, some ask if involvement really matters, and some want to get involved but are simply overwhelmed by the thought of adding another activity on top of busy class schedules. It has been a week since the Student Organizations and Activities Fair, so many students are beginning to think about what this year at William and Mary holds and what organizations they plan to become involved with. The purpose of this blog post will be to highlight the many benefits of involvement on campus and show you that it really does matter!

Student involvement is often a major component leading to college student satisfaction and development. First, let’s breakdown what I am referring to when I discuss “involvement.” Alexander Astin (1984), a leader in research on college student satisfaction, defines involvement simply as the quality and quantity of energy devoted to the academic experience. According to him, a “highly involved student” spends considerable energy studying, actively participates in student organization[s], and frequently interacts with faculty and fellow students. For the purpose of this blog post, I will narrow the scope of involvement to active participation in student organizations, with the assumption that students who do this also spend a considerable amount of time studying and interacting with peers and faculty.

Positive outcomes from becoming involved at William and Mary:

  • Increased academic development

Becoming involved outside of the classroom has been shown to increase students’ general knowledge, critical thinking ability, analytical ability, and problem-solving skills (Astin, 1993). The college classroom can teach you a wealth of knowledge, however, being able to develop critical thinking skills and applying knowledge outside of the classroom is important in bridging the gap between college student and active professional! Involvement on campus has also been correlated with higher GPAs among college students.

  • Increased interpersonal development

Joining student organizations allows students to meet people outside of their classes or program of study! Meeting and working with peers outside of the classroom helps to build interpersonal relationships. You might even meet some of your best friends in a student organization!

  • Increased college experience satisfaction

Becoming involved on campus allows students to feel more connected to campus and resources! Involvement also increases a student’s sense of belonging. William and Mary has so many offices, resources, and people ready and willing to help. Becoming involved on campus connects you to more people who have been in your shoes before and want to support you and help you succeed!

  • Find MEANING!

Involvement in an organization related to something you have a passion for increases a student’s sense of finding meaning in college and in life. Not to get too deep here, but there has been extensive research on finding meaning in life and how everyday activities can contribute to establishing purpose. Many psychologists have found that participating in something bigger than yourself (in this case a student organization) or helping others through community service increases one’s overall sense of purpose and meaning. Joining a student organization can help you discover your passion and become involved in issues you care about.

And on top of all those reasons, being involved is FUN!

Hopefully those reasons were enough to convince you that becoming involved at William and Mary is the right choice for you! Visit TribeLink to discover the 250+ student organizations and get involved in something that is important to you.

Stay tuned for our next post on how to discover student organizations that are right for you!

Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of college student personnel25(4), 297-308.

Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco.
Foubert, J. D., & Urbanski, L. A. (2006). Effects of involvement in clubs and organizations on the psychosocial development of first-year and senior college students. NASPA journal43(1), 166-182.