Going clubbing

Welcome to college, a place where your life will change forever in ways you can’t imagine. For many of you, welcome to a new city. A bit overwhelming, no? Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Lots of people will have advice for you as a new college student—some of it good, other bits less so.

Photo by Miles Sanguinetti
Photo by Miles Sanguinetti

Welcome to college, a place where your life will change forever in ways you can’t imagine. For many of you, welcome to a new city. A bit overwhelming, no? Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Lots of people will have advice for you as a new college student—some of it good, other bits less so.

One piece of advice that nobody gave me when I was a freshman—and I wish they had—was to join as many clubs, groups and activities as I could.

College gives you many opportunities to participate in activities that are extremely expensive or more difficult to find in the real world than they are at PSU. Take advantage of your access and go to more clubs than you know you will have time for once classes pick up so that you can sample your options.
Even go to clubs that only sound mildly intriguing, because you might discover a new hobby you didn’t know you had an interest in. Even if you decide not to participate, you learn a lot about yourself based on what you are drawn to and repelled by. In many ways, finding out who you are is one of the most important aspects of college.

Of course, in addition to the deeper self-discovery benefits, participating in activities is fun. Groups are a good way to meet people with common interests, and therefore a good place to make strong friendships. When you are new to college, especially if you are new to a city, it is especially important to make good friends.

Self-discovery and making friends are worthwhile endeavors, but there are even more benefits that are less obvious. Getting involved in various activities at PSU can potentially teach you new skills or refine ones you already have. Skills, accomplishments and clubs often look good on resumes, too.

Even if they don’t provide you with useful career skills, they can be points of interest for potential employers and make you stand out. Consistent involvement in one or more organizations shows people that you are well-rounded, reliable, can function well in cooperative environments and can manage your time well. Especially if you take on leadership positions in these groups. It shows that you can handle responsibility and being in charge, which is never a bad thing.

Having a regular activity or two also provides an excellent outlet for stress and something to focus your mind on. This helps you remain calm when things get difficult, and in college things will get stressful sometimes.

Aimee Shattuck, the director for Student Activities and Leadership Programs, said in an email that “[t]he best way to explore what groups and clubs exist on campus is to create an account at OrgSync.com. Students can put in key words or explore groups by category to find the right fit for them. Students can also go to pdx.edu/student-leadership to learn about events on campus, how to start a group, and other opportunities to get involved.”

Again, I doubt that you will find nothing interesting, as PSU offers a veritable plethora of groups. There is a group for nearly every ethnic background. Clubs vary from athletic to intellectual, everyday to unusual.

A few examples that interest me include the Jiu Jitsu Club, because being in shape and having martial arts skills is healthy and empowering; the Fencing Club because, as a graduate student studying history, swords have always interested me; the German Student Association, because I’ve been learning German for two years and I’ve got a number of German friends; and the Dragon Boat Club, initially because of the name, then because apparently it is a flat canoe sprinting sport. Nice!

I would like to emphasize: Get involved now rather than later. I can personally attest that the students who say “I’ll do that later” tend to not actually do that later.

There will always be another project, another paper or another chapter that you can use as an excuse. Trust me, the four years go by faster than you realize, and it isn’t uncommon for “next week” to turn into never.

Your freshman year of college will be exciting, nerve-wracking, stressful and some of the most fun you will have in your life if you do it right. There is no better time to meet new people, make new friends and learn new skills. Go find clubs and people that interest you.

The full list of groups at PSU

Academically-Controlled Auxiliary Activities Committee
Active Minds Chapter
Alpha Chi Omega sorority
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity
Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society
American Indian Science and Engineering Society
American Institute of Architecture Students
American Marketing Association
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Water Works Association
Anime Club
Anthropology Student Association
Arab Persian Student Organization
Associated Students of Portland State University
ASPSU Constituion and Judicial Review Board
ASPSU Student Fee Committee
Association of African Students
Association of Engineering Geologists
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting
Atma Foundation Club (education, empowerment, and sustainability advocacy group)
Basic English and Bible Club
Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society
Biology Investigation and Outreach (education/outreach, and connections for biology students)
Black Cultural Affairs Board
Bouldering Club
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Breakin’ Club (Break dancing—its not about breaking pottery. I checked.)
Brony Alliance for Magical Friendship
Cambodian Student Association
Campus V.I.S.I.O.N (outreach and religious activism)
Caribbean Community Connection (C3)
Catholic Student Association
Chi Alpha Christian Community
Chi Epsilon Honor Society
Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society
Chinese Student Scholar Association
Christian Science Organization
Christians United for Israel
Coalition for Asian Pacific American Studies
College Democrats
College Republicans
Commercial Real Estate Association
Community Development Student Group
Coriba Geology Club
Crew (rowing crew)
Cricket Club
Cru (Christian group)
Cultural Centers (explore diversity)
Curling Club (if you don’t know what curling is, Google it—it’s actually really interesting)
Cycling Club
Disc Golf
Diversity Scholarship Programs
Dodgeball Club
Dragon Boat (co-ed canoe sprint)
Eben-Ezer Christian Club
Electro Dance
Engineers Without Borders
Entrepreneurship Portland State University
Environmental Club
Environmental Science and Management Grad Student Association
Fencing Club (en garde!)
5th Avenue Cinema (operate and promote the 5th Avenue Cinema, a student-run cinema)
Film and Digital Photography Club
Financial Management Association
Fire Arts (fire dancing—as a pyro, I approve)
Food Action Collective (education on healthy, fair, sustainable food practices)
Food for Thought Cafe (non-hierarchical affordable vegetarian foods)
Food for Thought Student Art Gallery
Freethinkers of PSU (secular, atheist, agnostic group)
French Club
Friends of Geography
Friends of Graphic Design
Gamers Republic of University Players (video games, board games, LARP, et cetera)
Generation Unleashed—Portland State (Christian group)
Geospatial Information Society
German Student Association (Ich liebe Deutsch!)
Global Medical Brigades
Golden Key International Honor Society
Graphic Design Center
Greek Council
Green Note (co-ed a capella group)
Hong Kong Student Association
Ice Hockey Club (Canadian citizenship not required)
Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School
III-Dimensional Arts Association (3-D arts, sculpture, et cetera)
Impact (Christian outreach group)
Indian Student Association
Instrumental Music Club
Interfaith Leadership Team
International Business and Economics Association
International City/County Management Association
International Cooperation
International Socialist Organization (includes free copy of The Communist Manifesto?)
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
Iranian Students Association of Portland
Iraqi Students’ Club
Japanese Student Society
Jewish Student Union (shana tova!)
Kaibigan (Filipino club)
Kappa Sigma fraternity
Kickboxing Club
Korean Student Association
KPSU (student-run radio)
Kuwaiti Student Club
Lacrosse, Men’s
Lambda Alpha Honor Society
Las Mujeres (Latina women’s group)
Latina Dance
Leadership Fellows
Learning Center
Littman and White Galleries (fine arts)
Manufacture and Fabrication for the Sciences
Military Science Club (brush up your acronyms)
MindfulPSU (meditation group)
Model United Nations (more fun and less threat of world war than the real one)
Modern Buddhist Student Association
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan
Muslim Student Association
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Society of Black Engineers
National Society of Collegiate Scholars
National Student Speech Language Hearing Association
Net Impact
New Music Network
Omega Rho International Honor Society
Optometry Club
Oregon Students Public Interest Research Group
Organization Budget Council
Organization of International Students
Organization of Graduate Students of Social Work
Orientation Team (helps orient new students)
Pacific Islanders Club
Paranormal Activity Club (the truth is out there)
Pathos Literary Magazine
Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia Amerika Serikat (Indonesian Club)
Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society
Phi Delta Theta fraternity
Phi Sigma Sigma sorority
Philosophy Club (I think, therefore I belong to this club?)
Physics Society
Planning Club
Plant Science Consortium
Portland Collegiate Furs
Portland Pre-Health Society
Portland Pre-Law Society
Portland State Professional Sound
Portland State Programming Board
Portland State Red Cross Student Group
Portland State University Guild of Student-Conductors
Portland State University Human Resource Management Association
Portland State University League of Legends (rage harder, noob)
Portland State University Math Club
Portland State University Russian Club
Portland State University Students for Concealed Carry
Pre-Dental Student Organization
Pre-Pharmacy Student Association
Pre-Veterinary Medical Group
Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology
PSU Debate Union (advance your skills beyond “Nuh-uh!”)
PSU For Life (a pro-life group)
PSU Writer’s Collective
Psychology Club
Public Administration Student Association
Python, R, Octave, Geodatabases, R Studio, ArcGIS, MATLAB
Qatari Students Association
Queer Resource Center
Rec Admin Club
Rec Clubs Council
Rec Clubs Leadership Program
Romanian-American Group
Rotaract (Rotary-sponsored service club)
Rugby, Women’s (because helmets are for wimps)
Running Around Portland (long-distance running club)
Sailing Club
SALP Student Administrators Club
Saudi Student Club
Scholars for Awareness of Neuroscience Education
Science Outreach Society
Slavic Christian Club
Smith Space Committee
Soccer, Men’s
Soccer, Women’s
Society for Classical Languages, Literature, and Culture (semper ubi sub ubi)
Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society
Student Animal Liberation Coalition
Student Chapter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Student Leaders for Service
Student Opera Association of PSU
Students for Liberty
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Students for Social Action
Students for Unity
Students in Transportation, Engineering and Planning
Student Organization for Applied Linguistics
Students Preventing Underage Drinking
Students United for Nonviolence
Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights
Supply and Logistics Management Association
Sustainability Leaders Network
Swahili Experience Club
Table Tennis (the most popular sport in China, I’m told)
Taiwanese Student Association
Tango Club
Tau Beta Pi Honor Society
Tau Sigma Honor Society
Tea With TED (watch TED Talks, then have tea and discuss)
Thai Student Organization
Theater Arts Student Organization
Time Arts Club
UAE Student Group
Ultimate Frisbee, Men’s
Ultimate Frisbee, Women’s
United Indian Students in Higher Education
Vietnamese Student Association
Viking Motorsports (sadly, you don’t drive motorized longships)
Viking Vets (Student Veterans Association)
Volleyball, Women’s
Water Polo, Men’s
Water Polo, Women’s
With Israel
Women for Women International
Women in Business
Women’s Resource Center
Zoe Club (Christian group)