There’s no better time than the present to join a student community

Build skills, find community, and make the most of your university experience

A minimalistic illustration. A few lines and colours are draped from the top of the image, reminiscent of ropes of flags. The center of the photo reads: “Simon Fraser Student Society” and “Clubs Days”
What better way to find people with similar interests to you? Illustration courtesy of the SFSS

By: Luke Faulks, Staff Writer

Every university publishes a page for first years on why it’s important for students to join a campus group. These articles suggest clubs, organizations, and other groups provide everything from community to engagement, as well as experience to pad your resumé. There is, however, a question that often goes unanswered: when’s the best time to join a student community?

The answer is easy: “as soon as you can.” Whether you’re in your first, second, third, fourth year, or even later — don’t wait.

In your first year, before you’ve even fully gotten your feet underneath you as a student, join a group. Joining early provides students with a group of senior students who can be a resource to those learning how to navigate higher education.

With anywhere from 22% to 58% of students changing their major during their undergraduate career, signing on to a community early can streamline the process by helping you figure out what you like to do. Whether you’re drawn to activism, technical projects, or anything more leisurely, there are a number of groups that allow you to explore your interests in a (relatively) pressure-free space. And you can always try out different groups if the first doesn’t work for you.

The social aspect of student communities can also make university a more pleasant experience — student groups are filled with students who empathize, and will, more often than not, be supportive of your struggles. Having a social group that exists independently of classmates can make a huge difference in how you enjoy your time at university.

If, like me, you waited a little longer to get involved, don’t worry about it. Failing to join early during your academic career doesn’t prevent you from engaging with student organizations later on. I found that the critical thinking and communication skills I developed in my early academic years gave me more meaningful ways to contribute. In my fourth year, a fellow political science student convinced me to join the editorial team of Gadfly, a student-run political science journal. It was through the journal’s staff that I then found out about my current position as a Peak staff writer.

A final item to note on the “don’t wait” checklist is to not hold out for Clubs Day. The name is somewhat of a misnomer, as Clubs Day is also filled with sports teams, student unions, and organizations. Pre-pandemic, this event consisted of booths throughout Saywell Hall and the AQ. Over the course of a week, students had the chance to pick up contact info and chat with members. There’s no need to wait for an event like this to reach out; it’s entirely unnecessary for clubs or student unions. For those other groups, you can get your foot in the door for the next semester, while learning about how they work. It takes some courage to reach out to a group, but it’s often worth the effort.

Join a group of like-minded people who will support you through the hard times and help you find your passions at SFU, academic or otherwise.