Get more from college
The Extra Quotient
College is the right place to nurture your hobbies and hone skills that will stand you in good stead throughout life. So keep your antennae tuned to catch the signals of different clubs and societies and get more from your college years
Khushwant S. Gill

The social curve: A certificate in social service opens doors to foreign universities. The National Service Scheme (NSS) has branches in most colleges and is focused on personality development through social service

Having arrived in college, what’s ahead for you now? Studying hard and achieving your goals? Sure, you’ll be doing that. Having loads of fun? Most definitely yes! In fact, you probably have a well thought-out game plan for the years ahead and more power to you for that. But you may want to pause and consider one point — is this enough in today’s hyper-competitive world?

The answer points to a big NO. Classroom academics is not the sole determinant of a bright future; developing your talents, networking and shining in a social setting will play a big role in a successful career and life. Especially so in this fast paced, constantly connected 21st Century. And the ideal way to build up these skills and resources is through participation in college clubs and societies.

Colleges in India and around the world have clubs ranging from debating to dance, from photography to politics and from food to football. Social and environmental causes find an increasing representation in college clubs today as societal awareness and activism spreads amongst the youth. In many colleges students also have the option of starting a new club or society centred around a common interest or activity.

Clubs allow you to develop specific interests and skills. For instance, a debating club will help you improve public speaking abilities, confidence and general awareness of the world. A dance club will keep you physically fit. Participation in clubs will assist you in your academic career too. For instance, when you apply for further studies and scholarships abroad, weightage is given to how dynamic you have been in college and how involved you have been in club and society activities.

You’ll be following in illustrious footsteps when you join a club or society as many celebrities were very active during their college days. Amitabh Bachchan and more recently Sushant Singh of Kai Po Che fame were members of the Kirori Mal Dramatics Society and the band Parikrama was a part of its Music club. Innumerable such examples abound, not only in India but around the world.

Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest men in the world, and Ratan Tata were members of Alpha Sigma Phi, an extra-curricular society which develops character and leadership qualities. Ex-US president Bill Clinton was actively involved in his college social service club.

The same opportunities are available to you closer home. The Post Graduate Government College in Chandigarh, besides having most of the regular clubs, has some interesting offerings like the ‘Best Out of Waste Society’, the ‘Environment Awareness Society’ and the ‘Gender Equity Society’. Among other clubs, the PG Government College for Girls has the ‘Psychovision Society’ and the ‘Red Ribbon Society’ and the MCM DAV College has the ‘Legal Literacy Club’ and the ‘Character-Building Cell.

The primary idea behind clubs is to enrich your life and that of the college. Participation is a two-way street — you get and give equally.

Take the help of your seniors and join the clubs which are of most interest to you. You'll enjoy developing your interests, taking on new roles in life and preparing for a vibrant future.

— The writer is a consultant for organisational performance and life skills development and a speaker