As college students, we have all declared a major (or will select one at some point before graduation) to pursue. In many situations, there are also a handful of other students in your class on the same path. This can be great for a variety of reasons. You will have a group of peers that will enjoy many of the same classes and frustrations. You will have someone to lean on if you forget the homework or need a study group. However, following exactly the same path of everyone else in your major is not the best idea.
Now, I’m not suggesting moving in the opposite direction simply because everyone else is going another. This is not about non-conformity,it’s about opportunity. Regardless of your major, you must find a way to stand out of the crowd. I’m suggesting that students find an extracurricular activity or organization that they wouldn’t have normally become involved with, and run with it.
For example, I am an art and design student studying Advertising Art Direction. I’m pursuing this degree to enhance my ability to market products, causes, and services on a visual level. Because of this, it would seem like the best opportunities would be available to me if I were to join a design club or student advertising organization. Then again, all of the other art students are thinking the same thing. The amount of opportunities available to me as a creative mind doesn’t go very far in a room full of other creative minds. This is when separation from your peers can be a good thing.
Instead of seeking out a club that is already popular with students in your major, find one that is not. For this reason, I became involved with the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. NSCS is mainly an academic organization, focused on education and offering scholarship and career opportunities to members. How would a right-brained design student fit in the mix? Well, at the time I joined, my college’s chapter of NSCS was struggling. Our chapter was looking for help with marketing the organization and creating posters to put up on campus, but had not found any interested design or marketing majors to help out. This is where I came in.
I became an officer for our chapter and immediately began creating visual materials to broaden awareness and interest of NSCS on campus. From that point on, opportunities to showcase my talents have not ceased. Instead of waiting until my senior year to bypass the upperclassmen and be given better design opportunities, NSCS allowed me to design aspects of the graphic identity for their national convention during my sophomore year!
From now on, look beyond the confines of your own major. Finance majors: go assist the dance team with balancing their budget for upcoming competitions. Psychology majors: join the art club and provide your expertise for a unique and educational gallery installation. Marketing majors: join the chemistry club and plan a campaign to encourage student involvement. Basically, every major has a special skill, and many campus organizations are looking for these varieties of skills (even if they don’t know it yet.)
Glenn Madigan is a junior NSCS member at Columbia College Chicago majoring in Advertising Art Direction. Glenn also serves as a member of the National Leadership Council. He enjoys macaroni and cheese, spending countless hours designing for a variety of causes, and listing too many projects on his to-do list. You can follow Glenn on Twitter at @glennmadigan.