Society Editor Jess Farmer talks making the most of your time at university, and why joining a society could be one of the best things you do in Leeds!
The benefits of societies are often overlooked by students at university. Many people focus on their degree, the need to make new friends, adjustments to independence and going out. Nevertheless, the benefits and opportunities available when joining a society often make all these processes at university so much easier!
Societies can often be overwhelming. There is such a huge variety of options available and so many ‘Give It A Go’ opportunities that sometimes it can become challenging to pick something to join. ‘Give It A Go’ events are also often held in the first few weeks of university, and it can be difficult to attend them. Last year I felt so panicked about missing these events in the first few weeks. However, they are not the be-all and end-all of joining a society. Societies are inclusive and designed to be student-led. Don’t worry if you miss trials and auditions for societies – there are always opportunities to join later in the year.
Moreover, many societies are happy to accept new members at any point in the year so don’t be put off by the initial panic of choosing the right society – just attend every meeting you can! Societies at university are student-led and therefore they are inclusive and understanding. Most people in societies share the same stresses you do as a student which means that they are primarily fun and exciting things to help meet new people and provide a break from the stress of your degree. Often people worry about timing and commitment with societies but so many societies don’t require attendance every single week or extra work and training! Don’t let how busy you are deter you from the opportunities available to you at university.
Whilst societies are really fun and sociable, they can also contribute to your career development especially if you are doing a non-vocational degree. Personally, I love being involved in The Gryphon as I feel it also looks great on my CV and it has helped me to consider journalism after my degree in English and Spanish!
This is just one example of how societies help career development – they also help to build confidence, leadership and social skills, which are all really great qualities in the eyes of employers.
Societies are an amazing way to expand your social group at university. Many people struggle with feelings of isolation and it is often difficult to bond with your flatmates and course mates. You can meet people who share similar interests, meaning it is a great way to meet new friends. Societies also hold regular socials which can be a good break from all the stresses of university.
Lots of societies can be great for your health. There are so many societies which focus on sport or some form of physical activity which is not just great for your physical health but also for your mental health. These societies are also cost-effective for students as gym memberships can become expensive, and there is often social and team-building elements to them, which you don’t always get at the gym!
Societies also provide some amazing leadership opportunities with roles such as Secretary, Treasurer and President available in all societies at Leeds University Union, with many societies offering even more roles. Not only do these roles look great on your CV after university, they also help you to develop your strengths in leading a team, organising events and developing an awareness of financial management. All of these skills will be so beneficial to you and you can gain them in a fun and social way!
Some people often decide not to join societies because they feel that there is nothing available to them which they are interested in. However, if you ever feel there is nothing that you want to join you always have the opportunity to create your own society. You just need to think of an idea and get in touch with the union and you can have your own society up and running in no time.
Finally, I want to mention how people often underestimate the huge range of societies and the diversity of societies which are available to students at the University of Leeds. In LUU, societies are categorised into the following sections: Academic, Culture, Dance, Faith, General Interest, Martial Arts, Media, Music, Performance, Outdoor, Political & Campaigning, Sports, Volunteering and Welfare. These categories are so diverse and are sure to have something which can interest everyone. Make sure you spend some time on LUU’s website and read about some of the opportunities available for you to join as many people often don’t realise how many fantastic societies are on offer.
I hope this article has opened your eyes to the opportunities we have as students. You will only ever get the chance to join societies and benefit from them whilst you are at university so why let the opportunity go to waste? I urge you to get involved in as many societies as you can this year as it is something you won’t regret!