Shaping College Experiences: Community Spaces

As students begin a new journey in college, the anxiety from classes and adjusting will always be there, but what really changes their experiences? What spaces can provide them with academic, personal, and professional growth as they transition to a new chapter of their life?

“You get what you put in” is a common phrase that can actually be applied to a person’s college experience; you make it the way you want it to be with what you have. Professor John D. Foubert, an assistant professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, wrote a paper about how the involvement of first-year college students can have an effect on psychosocial development. Foubert “reported that elected student offices, public speaking ability, leadership abilities, and interpersonal skills have statistically significant correlations with hours per week spent participating in student clubs and organizations.” The amount of time students spend in their clubs and extracurriculars in college can help develop leadership skills that consequently expand their experiences. In addition, interaction with professors, faculty, and peers is significant as it creates relationships and encourages students’ personal and professional growth. This growth is one of the benefits of students participating in these social platforms.

In an interview, a former ASUC senator said that his time at UC Berkeley was highly influenced by the work he put into the Pilipino community on campus. He stated that PASS, or the Pilipinx Academic Student Services, was the “first formalized space in [his] life that affirmed [his] identities and intersectionalities.” Based on our interview, I learned how spaces like PASS play a huge factor on the personal growth of college students: Spaces that students identify with are transformative spaces. They allow students to understand their roots and their history. On the other hand, a current undergraduate student admitted that she participated in a student-led organization throughout her undergraduate experience only up until her junior year, as it was not the space she wanted to be a part of anymore. Even though that was not the case, she still developed great relationships with her peers, which made it worthwhile.

Not everyone will have great experiences in their participation with campus organizations, but participants still get to bond with their fellow peers for the time they invest in these clubs. Students not only engulf themselves in their academics but also cherish opportunities to express themselves. Participation in student organizations creates positive feelings that can balance out of the hardships of college.

College is difficult, especially when you are starting your first year. You might be away from your family for the very first time, in a new town or even a new state. It may be a difficult or an easy first-year transition, but these spaces where students can come together to express their passions and grow as a person are out there. Join a club and meet new people. You will never know what will happen from a simple interaction.