Despite the heat, dozens of tables lined Fairfield Way for the Fall 2018 Involvement Fair to advertise various extracurricular activities. Over 500 academic, environmental, Greek, fitness, service, religious, cultural, political and many other types of clubs handed out colored flyers and added students to their email lists.
Whether students were completely unsure of what they wanted to join or knew exactly what they were looking for, the Involvement Fair was a great starting point. With the sheer amount of clubs to choose from, students were bound to find at least one that peaked their interest.
The Involvement Fair makes it easy for students to connect with groups and organizations in person rather than searching on outdated websites for contact information. Madison Molnar, a first-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major, went in looking for certain kinds of groups that she would have struggled to contact without the Involvement Fair.
“I had an idea of what I wanted to go into, but I didn’t know how to contact clubs directly, so here I can sign up for them and then they contact me,” Molnar said. “Like I knew I had ideas on what I want to join, but the actual club wasn’t in front of me.”
Molnar also found clubs that she hadn’t originally thought of.
“The moon appreciation club was unexpected,” Molnar said. “I found stuff specifically, but I didn’t know that they had Special Olympics so that’s something that I’m interested in.”
Jillian Petrocelli, a fourth-semester biology major, used her experiences from last year to help her create a new approach to finding a club that’s right for her this semester.
“Last year, I tried to get involved in a couple things, but after going to the first meetings I wasn’t really interested,” Petrocelli said. “I also just realized I didn’t have a lot of time for it. “But this year I want to actually get involved in something. I want to meet new people.”
Clubs and student groups are a great way to be part of a small, close-knit community within a university as big as UConn.
Martin Villanueva, a sixth-semester healthcare management major, also emphasized the importance of getting involved as a way to give students a leg up on the future.
“As a freshman, I just dove into everything,” Villanueva said. “I guess you should find something that’s really going to be worthwhile. Something that will bring you a lot of experience… So one thing I did was USG. That’s what brought me a lot of leadership experience and also the ability to network with other upperclassmen.”
Once students find four or five clubs that they’re interested in, they have to narrow that list down to something they can manage on top of school work and possibly a job.
Molnar said she plans to prioritize which organizations she wants to join based on her schedule and her interests.
“I have different fields of interest,” Molnar said. “I want to be in at least one politically active club so I’ll just narrow it down to one and then I’ll narrow it down to maybe one outdoorsy club. So I have a central spot for each of those interests.”
Petrocelli advised new students against showing up to only the first meeting.
“I would go to a few meetings rather than (only) going to the first one, think that it’s something you can do and pay because a lot of clubs have fees,” Petrocelli said. “I ended up paying to go to a few clubs and then didn’t end up participating which was a waste of my time and a waste of my money.”
Petrocelli also recommended that students make smart choices that will benefit their futures.
“You have limited time, so you want to make sure you’re doing valuable things with that time,” she said.
The Involvement Fair marks just one of many ways that UConn welcomes both new and returning students to campus and ushers in a new semester.
Alexis Taylor is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.