In their time at Western, every student learns that university's most exciting aspects can also be its most daunting.
Western University's clubs, all 213 of them, are no exception. University clubs are more numerous, and arguably more rewarding than their high school counterparts. Here at Western, clubs are under the students' council, and are afforded real autonomy.
Western's size means there truly is a club for everyone, no matter how niche you might consider your interests to be. And, if you're doubtful, there's only one way to find out.
To those bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen greener than spring grass on UC Hill, let this be the starter guide on your extracurricular expedition.
What are you looking for?
While there’s a near guarantee that there’s a club for you on campus, the hard part is figuring out what exactly you want.
So, the first step in finding the best club for you is consulting with…. well, yourself. What’s your primary reason for joining a club? Developing or improving a skill? Networking? Simply for that warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside after making a new friend?
It’s likely not that last one, but you shouldn’t feel bad if it is.
You’ll get the most out of your four years at Western if you can figure out what your motive is early on. Especially since extracurriculars in university can be life-changing, it’s not unheard of for a student to get hired after graduation through club networking.
Many clubs on campus have a strong career-focus, and while you’ll doubtlessly find the most sycophantic of students here, you’d be surprised at the opportunity they can offer.
Do your research
The best introduction to clubs is at the University Students' Council's Clubs Week. Every September, clubs picket the University Community Centre to show themselves off and ask for registrants.
But even after Clubs Week, the USC website allows you to sign up for clubs online well past the conclusion of Clubs Week up until the sign-up deadline in mid-Fall.
The website is also the first place you should check when considering a particular club. Using their search engine, you can view all the clubs on campus by category and find links to their social media and website; sign-up fee payments can also be made online.
When vetting a club on your own, check their activity level and posting frequency on their social media. The most reputable and popular clubs tend to stay very active throughout the school year and even during summer. And their past Facebook events can tell you about their usual programming.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out and message the club’s page or email them to express your interest and ask for specific information. Most clubs will be ecstatic that you’re interested in them so they'll be happy to answer any questions you have.
Be honest about your commitments
Clubs at Western vary immensely from faculty student councils to coffee appreciation.
Certain clubs are “passively” participatory, meaning your duties as a member consist mostly in showing up. Others may want to host events or fundraisers which require you to undertake more responsibility. Both can be equally rewarding; the difference lies in what your individual expectations are.
You’ll find joining a few low-commitment clubs or one to two high-commitment clubs will help you strike a healthy balance between extracurricular involvement and academic excellence.
The glitz and glamour of Club Week’s colourful parade can be particularly enticing to freshmen eyes. But it’s definitively more fulfilling to keep your September commitments until April than to enlist for everything and disappear by midterms.
Under Doug Ford's new regime of starving student organizations, extracurriculars are more and more valuable. As a Western student you’re entitled to the pursuit of finding a community, and clubs are often the best way to do that. Despite budget cuts, there is still a massively passionate community supporting the Western student experience, and that community is you.
So come September, welcome to the community.