Student Groups, worth it?

I received an email from Simmons LISSA detailing to me the new leadership for 2012. Reading through the list, I thought to myself: “do student groups really matter?”

Without a doubt you make great friends, and gain valuable insight, but insofar as jobs are concerned do student groups actually help? While being president of said group might seem like a big deal, what does it actually signify? By all accounts, participation in these groups does not total more than 50% of students, with some cross over between the groups. Granted this guess is based purely upon inference and some of my visits to their meetings. But lets get back to the topic at hand.

Does participation in these groups mean anything? Even for a group like BPM, which are merit based, does membership matter? Sure academic achievements are worth something, but what exactly? In what way does someone with a 3.7GPA differ from an individual with a 3.0? And more importantly does this difference indicate that the expected quality of work will greatly differ between these two students? In all honesty, probably not. There would probably be a significant difference between a 1.0 student and a 3.7 student, but given that a minimum 3.0 is needed to continue with most programs that comparison isn’t valid.

Student groups are useful for networking. Not necessarily within themselves, but if they are linked with larger groups then participation can mean an easy in once graduation occurs. This is an important advantage and one that is quite frequently put forward as a compelling reason to join these groups. And yet what do these groups accomplish? This is the central question. In what way do student groups create and finish projects that have a meaningful impact, and is the ability to create and finish projects the sole property of these groups? Student groups are generally affiliated with the schools, and as such will have access to faculty and advisers that are not normally afforded to other students.

Still, I remain unconvinced that aside from bragging rights participation in student groups is an indicator of future success. Granted if they are focused on achieving results and do so, than I’m much more supportive, but as of now, I remain unconvinced. It isn’t the groups fault, after all, people naturally congregate around similar ideas. However I do challenge the view that participation in school groups is a clear separator between those who will succeed and those who might not.


2 responses to “Student Groups, worth it?

  1. In my view, students who are likely to do well are more likely to be active in groups and organizations, and vice versa. There’s a correlation between the two, but the causation is a feedback loop without a traceable origination. It’s also not always true: as you say, there are students who don’t participate in groups and organizations and do well in their careers, and plenty that do participate but aren’t especially successful.

    I would still recommend students (be they in the library/information field or not) become active in student groups and professional organizations, but realize that it’s not going to suddenly improve their job chances by leaps and bounds. Sure, it’s another line on the CV/resume and good for networking, but they still have to make the effort elsewhere. Being successful means being well-rounded in many areas, not just a superstar in the classroom or in a student group.

    • I suppose that’s generally true. I belong to the group of students that never really participated in student groups. Not from a lack of desire, but because I was always working in either my internship or other job. Meanwhile I frequently saw students that actively participated having a lot of difficulty after graduation finding employment.

      Thank you for your comment!

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