Unlocking the power of extracurriculers

A guide to enhancing your college experience through involvement

College life is often synonymous with academics, where the pursuit of knowledge takes center stage. While academics should undoubtedly be a priority, there's more to college than just hitting the books.

I'm Greer Downing, a senior in UC's Health Sciences - Pre-Occupational therapy program at the University of Cincinnati. I hope this guide can give you some insights into how getting involved in college extracurriculars can add excitement and depth to your overall experience.

Balancing academics and extracurriculars

Greer cheering at a football game in a mask

Greer Downing cheering on the Bearcats

I'm a fourth-year studying in the Health Sciences program on the Pre-Occupational Therapy track. This program prepares me for a graduate program in Occupational Therapy, so the rigorous curriculum can be challenging at times - but I learned to stick to a well-structured schedule to allow me to manage my time effectively. Academics are undeniably crucial, but I've discovered that adding extracurricular activities injects excitement into the week and creates a more well-rounded college journey.

Suppose you only focus on the academic side of your program. In that case, you miss opportunities to meet people, build leadership skills, and see what the University of Cincinnati offers. If you are concerned with time management, there are various ways to get involved; some only require you to attend monthly meetings, while other leadership positions will require more of a time investment - you'll be able to tailor your involvement to your schedule and availability.  Throughout my time at UC, I have been involved in various extracurriculars and still managed to complete my coursework and excel academically. If I can do it, you can too.

Joining diverse organizations

Greer with a certificate

Greer Downing and Wiley Lyons getting the Guide of the Year award from ROAR Tour Guides

My advice? Join a variety of diverse organizations. Whether it's Greek Life, student government, or major-specific groups, these opportunities introduce you to like-minded individuals and help forge friendships based on shared interests. 

Here are just a few of the campus involvements I have been a part of while at UC: 

  • UC Cheerleading
  • CAHS Ambassadors
  • ROAR Tour Guides 
  • Office of Admissions Student Ambassador
  • Pre-Occupational Therapy Student Organization
  • Student worker for the Transition and Access  Program
  • Outreach and Engagement intern with the College of Allied Health Sciences
  • UC Bookcats
  • UC Run Club

Professional benefits of college involvement

Beyond personal enjoyment, there are significant professional benefits to college involvement. Building a network during your college years can open doors to internships, research opportunities, and valuable references for your post-graduation endeavors.

It's also a strategic move for the future. Showcasing your teamwork, time management, and leadership skills through your extracurricular involvement will enhance your resume. Having a well-rounded resume was helpful during my graduate application process. It helped set me apart from other applicants that I was involved in my university beyond just acing the coursework. 

Throughout my time I have sought out campus involvement that aligned with my future career aspirations. By tailoring my interests to these involvements, I have gained valuable skills and experiences that will ultimately set me up for success in my chosen career path. Whether it be joining professional clubs, participating in internships, or volunteering in relevant organizations, I have deliberately selected activities that allow me to develop and enhance the skills necessary for my desired field. 

My involvement helped me get into my dream graduate program - I can't wait to start this summer. 

Navigating campus opportunities

Greer hugging friends on campus

Greer with friends

Wondering how to discover what your school offers? Check out the UC University's Center for Student Involvement (CSI). Their website is a treasure trove for discovering campus events and browsing UC's over 600 organizations. UC's student organizations span a variety of interests - you're sure to find at least one that piques your interests. 

Take advantage of involvement fairs hosted by the Center for Student Involvement and the Student Activities Board at the beginning of each semester. These fairs provide a platform for exploring different organizations and finding your community. Keep an eye on bulletin boards, flyers, and digital signage for information on upcoming events and organization applications.

In my own journey, I've learned the value of stepping outside my comfort zone. While participating in a collegiate sport aligned with my comfort zone, I found unexpected connections and opportunities by joining organizations focused on public speaking. My advice to fellow students is to diversify your involvement to maximize the richness of your college experience.

I hope this guide emphasizes the importance of embracing college extracurriculars to enhance personal and professional growth. By striking a balance between academics and involvement, you can unlock a myriad of opportunities and create lasting connections that extend far beyond your college years. It's never too late to get involved either, so why not start today? 

Take the next step

Check out the Center for Student Involvement to get started on your journey of getting involved. 

Headshot of By: Greer Downing

By: Greer Downing

Health Sciences - Pre-Occupational Therapy Student, College of Allied Health Sciences

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