Just as integral to collegiate life are the things done with spare time — specifically, the organizations to join as a student. But the impact these organizations have on involvement and personal development are at bay.
“As a general theory, what we know is that students who are involved on campus tend to have better grades,” said manager of the Brower Student Center Seth Zolin. “The connection to the College is better, they feel more included, and as a member of the community they want to perform better. Because they have demands on their time, involved students are forced to structure their schedules.”
Last semester, Zolin conducted a survey of the campus to find out just how involved students are at the College. According to the 651 responses, 89.77 percent of students are involved in at least one on-campus organization, with the average involved student taking part in approximately two organizations.
“I feel like being involved helps a lot, because it makes me organize my schedule and time manage better,” said Samantha Swartz, a senior interactive multimedia major, Ambassador and member of the Trentones. “Although sometimes it can be stressful. I’d say that about 30 percent of the time it’s crunch time, when it feels like I need to stop doing so many things.”
Alexander Astin’s Developmental Theory for Higher Education, published in July 1984 the definitive study in the field of student involvement, theorizes that the greater the student’s involvement in college, the greater the student’s personal development will be. The study also suggests that learning will increase with more involvement. For students at the College, Astin’s theories hold to a degree.
“It’s basically a part-time job,” said Garrett Verdone, a junior marketing major with leadership positions in the Mixed Signals and All College Theatre, as well as an active member of TCNJ Musical Theater and the Theaters Honors society Alpha Psi Omega. “Sometimes, like when we’re putting on a play, it turns into a full-time job … On the semesters when I’m less involved, I probably do a half grade better in all my classes. But for me it’s worth it.”
Perhaps the biggest role student involvement plays is in social life.
“I think being involved helps your social life a lot. You get to be friends with the people involved,” said Samantha Pena, a senior English major involved in the English Honors Society Sigma Tau Delta and previously an editor for HerCampus. Students admitted that they would have gotten involved sooner than they originally did because of the positive impact that involvement has made on their college careers.
“Ultimately, academics are important, but they don’t make you a complete individual,” Zolin said. “It’s your involvement with a student organization that provides a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.”