University clubs unite students around common interests | State and Region

When there are thousands and thousands of students at a university, it can sometimes be difficult to make friends or find a niche. This is where many clubs come in.

“I just looked and there are 900 student clubs on campus,” says Paul Lasley, a retired rural sociologist from Iowa State University. “I think it shows the great diversity of student interest and creativity.”

The situation is similar on other campuses. These clubs sometimes have unusual names. Well-known agricultural names on some campuses include “Block and Bridle” and “HoofN’Horn,” both of which are aimed at animal science majors. In Illinois there is the “My Little Pony” club or the Procraftinators (for crafters). In Missouri, there are “Comedy Wars” and “Tigers for Tigers”.

There are about 1,000 student organizations or clubs at the University of Illinois, according to Owen Roberts, who teaches agricultural communications.

“That’s how you create a sense of community,” Roberts says.

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Often students come to college after high school and don’t know anyone on the college campus. They may make a few friends in their dorm or maybe in a fraternity or sorority. They may meet certain people in their classes. But for many students, it can be difficult to find a group of people with similar interests.

This may be especially true for some rural students who are already struggling with the transition from a small high school where they knew everyone and were active in many school activities.

Clubs can be a place where these students can find a comfort zone in college, Lasley says.

“It’s easy to be overlooked,” he says. “Clubs can offer the opportunity to integrate.”

Of course, there is more than that. Clubs can provide opportunities to learn leadership skills, build resumes, or even make professional contacts.

Roberts helps lead the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow, and this organization often helps students connect with potential employers or industry leaders. These career development experiences can be almost as important as class work. They can lead to internships and jobs.

Of course, they can also be just fun, as in the case of the Quidditch club or the juggling and unicycling club.

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