Freshman year of college is full of new experiences — new people, new classes, new activities. Most people spend this time joining clubs and participating in extracurriculars around campus, but one activity that is often rare for freshmen is student government. Being in student government can seem extremely daunting, as you're expected to take on a lot of responsibility as well as represent the entire student population. Although it can definitely be stressful at times, being a part of student government during your first year of college also has many perks.
1. Advantage: Meeting lots of new people, especially upperclassmen.
The types of people who are in student government are usually very active and motivated individuals — they have to be, as they're constantly expected to serve and represent the rest of the student body. As a result, they give great advice about college life and can help you navigate the ins and outs of living away from home for the first time, as they've already experienced everything you're going through.
2. Disadvantage: Feeling inadequate compared to everyone else.
As the lowly freshman in a group mainly comprised of smarter, more accomplished upperclassmen who always seem to know what they're doing, it's hard not to feel incompetent sometimes. But instead of dwelling on the negatives, use this as inspiration to work harder and achieve your own goals so someday, you'll be standing in their shoes.
3. Advantage: Getting way more involved on campus.
Being a part of student government means you'll have a hands-on role in nearly everything on campus, from clubs to resource centers to student housing. This allows you to be more aware of everything that's happening around you, which is extremely helpful if you've just started college as a lost freshman. You'll be introduced to amazing people and opportunities you wouldn't have known of otherwise.
4. Disadvantage: Being busy all the time.
Student government can be extremely time-consuming. You're expected to attend meetings, help write bills, plan socials, hold interviews and socialize with new people almost constantly. Factor in classes and homework and there's little time for much else. But being super busy does help you manage your time more wisely (and procrastinate less). However, from personal experience, there's still plenty of time to join other activities as well as hang out with friends.
5. Advantage: You'll learn a lot.
To end on a positive note, my time in student government this past year has been the most impactful learning experience of my college career thus far. Not to say that my classes weren't also educational — they were, but serving on student government and working with other amazing, motivated individuals is an entirely different type of learning experience. It's a unique opportunity to learn the inner and outer workings of the campus where you'll be spending the next four years, as well as about yourself. I've found myself to be much more motivated and willing to learn, and the connections that I've made have allowed me to further explore career paths that I'm interested in and figure out what I really want to do with my life.
Serving on student government may not be for everyone, especially as a freshman when you're just barely getting to know your school, but I've found it to be a terrific experience. If your school is anything like mine, there are countless sectors of the government you can get involved in, from serving on the President's staff (like me) to organizing campus-wide events to driving the school's public buses. There's always something for everyone, even if the idea of joining such a large and carefully managed organization can seem scary. You never know unless you try!
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