The beginning of the school year hosts plenty of familiar sights: audition posters tacked up in every hall, emails about the latest lunchtime seminar clogging your inbox, and of course, the student involvement fair. All the options can be overwhelming. With everything to choose from, how can you narrow it down? Many college students opt to do things that they think will personally advance them in their career or academically. But it's easy to get caught up in one small bubble of academic interest; so instead, here are seven reasons you should definitely be involved in things outside of your major.

1. It's fun.

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Most of the fun you will ever have in your life will have nothing to do with what you study. And there's nothing wrong with finding an overlap between the two; if you're studying astrophysics, by all means, join the rocketry club. Maybe try singing acapella or writing for your school's newspaper as well. We all have things we like to do outside of our major, and we shouldn't push them away as hobbies that we never get around to. Getting involved dedicates yourself to the things you like to do, and you should embrace it.

2. It can relieve stress.

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Every college student knows stress. Even if it's too early in the semester for you to be completely stressed out, you never want to let it build up. The best way to get rid of stress is by doing something you enjoy. You can also join organizations or attend events aimed specifically at releasing stress. These often include activities that don't need any kind of overthinking, like knitting or yoga. Or you could join a club sport to release built-up energy and restlessness. Just make sure you don't put too much on your plate, otherwise, you'll be just as stressed out as you were before.

3. You learn new skills.

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Many organizations that are formed around one particular skill will welcome newcomers. This means you have the perfect opportunity to learn things you may have always wanted to: improv, ultimate frisbee, crochet, wilderness survival, photography, etc. And if you can't find the organization for it, there may be a class you can fit into your schedule or a one-time seminar for it instead. And don't let the fear of not being good enough stop you from joining---in fact, the people currently in charge were probably in your shoes when they first started out. So why not go for it?

4. You expand your friend group.

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Whether you're new to the school or you've been there for years, there will be plenty of people at the school that you don't know. And friend groups will likely change over the years, especially because of different class schedules and living situations. Whether you want some new people to eat lunch and study with or just want to know more of the faces you pass by on the way to class every day, getting involved is the best way to get to know other people. 

5. It adds to your resume.

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I already pointed out that getting involved outside of your major will give you new skills, which is definitely very marketable. It makes you appear more well-rounded, and it's always good to know that the scientist has well-developed public speaking skills or that the artist can code in two different languages. But besides skill-building, getting involved shows your dedication and time-management abilities. Employers want to hire people in a certain field of study, but they also want to see that you have other capabilities and that you will commit yourself to the job.

6. It can help you earn scholarships.

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National organizations and service groups often create scholarships available only to their own members, so even just being involved with your campus's chapter will put you in the running. Your school may also be providing scholarships for students who actively participate in leadership roles within organizations, especially ones that show how well-rounded the student is. Even scholarships completely outside of your campus or organization bubble will likely place your application in a higher ranking just because of your involvement (for the same reasons in the point above). It's free money, and you never would have seen it were it not for involving yourself outside of your major.

7. You may discover a hidden talent or passion.

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College is a weird time where everyone expects you to have a plan for your life, but in reality, you probably have no clue. Doing something outside of the classroom framework is a completely different experience. You may have hated your environmental science class, but you love the outdoors club. Or perhaps you'll find something that's completely new to you and have it turn into your passion. You never know if you don't try, and it's so easy to get caught up in your field of study that you forget to try these kinds of new things.

Figuring out your schedule in college can be hard, and trying to add stuff that doesn't directly enhance your academic career can feel like the wrong direction. But hopefully after reading this, you've realized just how backward that mindset is. You'll be living most of your life outside of the classroom, and you should embrace it. After all, you're paying for this experience. Getting involved outside of your major is absolutely one of the best ways to get your money's worth.

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