At the University of Michigan acclimating to University life can be a difficult task. Students are welcomed into a growing community of over 28,000 undergraduate students, as well as over 15,000 graduate school students and faculty personnel. Each person enrolled at the university has proven their academic capabilities through their high school test scores and applications. Louis Menand argues in his second theory that colleges and universities sort the intelligent from the less intelligent and distinguish the successful from the less successful using grades. However, a students grades can be positively and negatively affected by many things. Clubs and organizations have become the most recognizable tool for improving a students success by minimizing one’s community size and providing students with an outlet at which they can become more actively involved on campus.
The University of Michigan offers over 1,500 clubs and organizations that students are able to join. Joining a club or organization allows students the ability to surround themselves with other students of shared values. For instance, as a member of the club Kid’s Kitchen I constantly interact with people who share a value of service and have an interest in interacting with children.
College and university organizations offer students the opportunity to become actively involved in their campus community. For the sake of this blog we will view actively involved students as priority focused individuals that designate their time to furthering their success through campus outlets. For instance, a student interested in majoring in engineering may join an engineering fraternity where they will be able to network with other individuals interested in the same field.
Menand argues that grades are the essence of success and differentiate the most successful students from the rest. However, student’s academic lives are examined by a criterion that includes more than only grades. Incoming undergraduate students are constantly encouraged to branch out and join clubs and organizations in order to fully take advantage of opportunities within the University. However, students are encouraged to do things while also receiving the best grades possible.
Majority of students enter college and university with distinct goals. Perhaps they are using their freshman year to focus solely on academics, attend every football game, or joining Greek life. Unfortunately, society’s pressure on students to do well can be intimidating and student’s can easily loose focus of their goals. It is essential that students are able to maintain a balance between social and academic life.
By joining a club or organization, students are joining a community. The beauty of these communities is that they are smaller than the full campus community and also that they allow individuals to be surrounded by others with similar interests.
Alexander Astin published an article titled, “Student Involvement: A Developmental Theory for Higher Education” in The Journal of College Student Development which details the Theory of Student involvement. “The Theory of Student Involvement… suggests that the most precious institutional resource may be student time.” Student time refers to the amount of time a student puts toward accomplishing their goals, such as studying, attending class, and participating in study groups or clubs.
Astin suggest that active participation allows individuals to remain motivated and better reach their goals. Originally developed during a study which explored the affect of college and university life on dropouts, the Theory of Student Involvement found that actively involved students were less likely to dropout. Students who fully immersed themselves in college and university life formed a stronger psychological connection to their school and had a stronger incentive to do well.
Referring back to Kids Kitchen, my academic life has been positively affected by the organization. By finding a common interest among club members individuals are able to explore other interests they may have in common outside of the club. Kid’s Kitchen focuses on the ideal of service and serving one’s community. However, through the club I have met numerous individuals with common course schedules and academic goals. It is extremely common for us to form study groups and meet outside of class for academic purposes. While Kid’s Kitchen is not an academic club, the opportunity to meet and interact with other academically focused individuals has benefited my academic studies.
While Menand is correct in that grades are a defining aspect of a student’s academic career, it is important to note the factors that contribute to a student’s ability to become academically successful such as clubs and organizations.