Tomorrow morning, I am making a four-hour trek from Leeds up to Glasgow to attend a cheerleading coaching course. If you’d asked me last year if I would be doing this? No way; it would seem like such a random question I’d probably have laughed.
Up until September last year I had never done cheerleading in my life; it was a society I started during my first year of university. And suddenly it hit me how different my uni experience would have been without it. So many of my memories are from cheer: one too many drunk nights out, cosy nights in, the excitement of competitions and the madness of tour (that story is for another time).
So when people tell me they aren’t part of a university society it boggles me. Don’t you realise what you’re missing out on?! Fair enough, at the prospect of starting university the excitement may get the better of you; going through lists of the societies your university has on offer may be towards the bottom of your to-do list (especially when you’ve got to stock up on spirits and fancy dress for fresher’s week). But here’s my top reasons why you should join a society at university and bump it up your priority list. You won’t regret it I promise. (Though the initiation may have you questioning it!)
1. Expanding your social circles
This is the most obvious benefit of joining a society; societies make a huge difference to your social life at university. The majority of my friends I know through cheerleading. Societies broaden your horizons and social circles to include more than just your flatmates and people on your course. This is fab because you’re more likely to form better friendships with people who have similar interests to you; a society puts all rugby lads or Harry Potter fans or foodies together, each under their own umbrellas of hobbies, so the potential for friendship is at its peak. People who you live with twenty-four seven also tend to eventually get on your tits, so it’s probably best to have a few friends outside your halls of residence.
2. Trying something new
Though many people join a society to keep up a hobby they’ve had since they could walk and talk (and by all means I’m not saying give up your life long interests), but one of the best things about societies is there is ample opportunity to give something else a go. Some things you might not even know you enjoy because they are so wacky and wonderful they hadn’t even crossed your mind. Where else are you going to be able to play ultimate Frisbee or join the “stitch and b*tch” society my uni has to offer? Mmm, you probably won’t.
Obviously on top of all these strange and extravagant societies there are the usuals: sports, subjects and religious groups. And who cares if you’ve never played lacrosse in your life or are just interested in the concepts and ideas of Buddhism? Absolutely no one. There will be something for you no matter what. Like I said, I was completely new to cheer this year and had never done a flip or walk over in my life (and I still haven’t), but I found my place in the dance-division: the Pom Team. If you think you could like it, just give it a go.
3. Jazzing up your CV
Showing the ability to balance university life and partake actively in a society shows you can manage your time well. Not only this, but everyone has a degree nowadays; what makes you different to any other thousands of graduate across the country? You need to show you’re interesting, that you’re more than just your degree. You need to have other passions and interests and skills. Societies are a perfect opportunity to build on other aspects of your personality while making friends and having heaps of fun.
Committee roles are the cherry on top when it comes to jazzing up your CV; to be involved in the running of your society shows dedication, organisation and drive. Yes, it’s additional work and effort, but if it’s something you care about and a hobby that has become a large part of your time a university, it doesn’t feel like work at all.
4. Keeping fit
Okay, maybe this only really applies to the sports societies, but why not try a sports society? The minimum amount of cheer I do each week is three hours. And that’s three hours more than I would do otherwise. The best thing about it? It doesn’t even feel like excercise. Motivating yourself to go to weekly training (including a gossip and a catch up with your new best friends) is much easier than trying to convince yourself to go to the gym.
If these four reasons aren’t enough for you to prioritise joining societies, then I don’t know what will be. You’ll make great friends, try something new (and probably end up loving it), add something great to your CV and keep fit and healthy. So do yourself a favour and sign yourself up for a year of fun: join a society. Pretty please.