What do Chemistry, Taylor Swift, and the Japanese martial art of aikido all have in common? Believe it or not, they were all societies you could join at my university.
Societies are, quite simply, student-run clubs. As you might have guessed from those examples, virtually any subject, interest or activity can be the basis for a society and, consequently, most universities have a huge number of them. People often feel societies were the best feature of their student life; for me, being part of the student newspaper was definitely a highlight (more on that later). But what’s so great about them? Here’s three potential benefits to consider when thinking about whether to get involved:
1) Shared interests
Making friends at university can seem a little daunting, especially if you have moved away from home. Societies are a great way to meet people since you already know you have at least one thing in common with everyone there. They also give members the chance to get to know each other through ‘socials’ – events put on by a society – which can range from informal hang-outs to big nights out and even trips abroad!
2) Trying new things
University is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about yourself; a great way to do that is by trying new things. Although it’s good to find people with shared interests, societies also give you the chance to try something totally different. You may find that in doing so, you stumble upon a lifelong passion. You may also find you don’t like it at all, but at least you’ll know!
3) It’s great for your CV
This might not be quite as exciting as the other reasons, but it’s worth considering. Societies are run by student committees which often have several electable roles. Being elected to a position such as treasurer or president looks great on your CV, as it shows your willingness to take on responsibility. Furthermore, it gives you the chance to develop important transferable skills which will serve you well when you go into the world of work, such as communication and teamwork.
I didn’t get involved in a society until my third year at uni; I was living at home and was also a little older than the usual freshers, so I’d tended to keep a slight distance between myself and uni social life. This was okay, as I had plenty of friends from home, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was letting an opportunity pass me by. At the start of my third year, I decided to take a chance on the student newspaper – I’d always liked the idea of writing articles but had never actually done so – and emailed the editor asking if I could write something.
They replied telling me that not only could I write an article, but that if I wanted, I could apply for the role of Music Editor. To my surprise, I was awarded the role based on my application. This gave me the chance not only to write articles of my own, but to source and edit pieces from others. This was a totally new experience for me, but I found that I loved it! It helped that people were incredibly welcoming; I still see the friends I made there.
Ultimately, whether you want to get involved in societies is totally up to you and you can have a great time at university without joining any. But I hope I’ve shown how fun and rewarding they can be – if you see something that interests you, my advice would be: go for it!