From what I’ve experienced of societies, sometimes it’s really all or nothing. Some students dedicate their spare time, and all of their friends come from societies. It becomes part of their identity. Is this a good thing? For the most part, yes.
I should tell you what angle I’ll come from here. This is my first year of college that I’m not 100% involved in societies. In first and second year, I held high-up committee positions in the NUI Galway Writers’ Society. I was the Publisher in first year and Chairperson last year, for those of you who like details. We raised it up from the ground after our predecessors weren’t around to care for it. We certainly cared for it, made it our own and developed it into something to be proud of, for everyone to enjoy on different levels. From those who wanted their pieces published to those who wanted to go along and listen and even those who just wanted to drink tea.
I’ve gone back to the society as it stands today a couple of times this year but I’ve had no attachment that required a title in this academic year. It’s fun to go back and see that it’s surviving without me and my other friends who are on Erasmus/placement this year too. Familiar faces are there and I see that they have the drive that I once had.
But I will say looking back, that the benefits of a college society outweigh any sort of drawbacks. It was amazing to be that dedicated to something that you made your own with fellow friends. Sure, honestly, you might stress about numbers attending or quality of events and of course the daunting role of the national society awards BICS.
But in reality, all of these things are incredibly fun and rewarding. I’ve never missed a Societies Ball (the socialite I am) but each that I’ve attended was spent with different groups of friends and were entirely a celebratory thing. We reminisced on what we achieved, the memories we made and what we did all together. I know that we did something as a team that changed student’s college experience and we created something that fellow students wanted to be a part of. That’s something that you can’t get from just anything in college.
I would say that societies benefit everyone and that this is due to the collaborative experience they bring. A lot of the time, societies chair and share events and this can even play out on an inter-society or inter-varsity level. This is amazing in terms of learning how others make a stab at what you do every week. Don’t knock it.
Societies do great things and being part of a society is not something to miss out on. There is so much out there and it’s relatively easy to discover. You can follow your academic routes through a society, something purely creative or even something super nerdy (no shame!).
Also, I think when you are part of a society, you become a bit of a college celeb. I don’t mean you get papped on the way to lectures or any of that madness, it’s just that you’re recognizable for what you do. For example, last year my name wasn’t Cathy, it was Writers’ Soc, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
People who are interested in societies (for the most part) are all very dedicated people. Now maybe I’m being biased but aren’t dedicated people the best kind of friends? Speaking of friends. Last year in college, I moved in with two girls I had met through societies and we then did our best to run society related things from the house. Another housemate was involved in a different college society and it was easy for us to get along. Societies bring people together 100%.
I find people with special passions really interesting, and honestly, that’s what student societies are all about. Before I forget! Great little addition to the CV (as long as you can stop yourself over-talking about it for an interview, which I admit that I’m guilty of). So check out your societies, most have an online presence and are easily contactable. Why not give it a shot? We simply won’t be in college forever and you might as well give it a go.