By it’s very definition, university is “a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees”; but I believe that university isn’t just about the academia. The experience of university is all about personal growth and development and taking opportunities that wouldn’t be available outside of it. This includes several extra-curricular activities ranging from societies, volunteering, fundraising activities and work experience.
Personal growth and extra-curricular activities
The University of York offers over 200 societies ranging from Roller Disco to a Hummus Appreciation Society; there is a society for everyone. Societies are an integral part of university life. These can be the places you meet your closest friends, as you have a common interest before you have even met them. It also allows you to meet people who you wouldn’t necessarily meet through your course or accommodation. You can also find yourself stepping outside of your comfort zone, as these societies take you to places you never thought you’d reach.
During my first year, I joined the Outdoor Society. Through this society I have completed a Silver National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) to become a trained walk leader. I also completed a 16-hour outdoor first-aid course, where I learned life-saving skills. In addition, I am a committee member who writes the weekly emails that get sent out to hundreds of people. I have gained skills and grown as a person through partaking in societies.
Not only does this university offer a wide range of societies, they also provide an extensive range of volunteering opportunities. You can volunteer in many initiatives through community placement, projects, or one-off activities. In my first year, I volunteered with YSIS (York Students In Schools). I helped students to resit their GCSEs by volunteering as a classroom assistant. This was an 8-week programme during Spring Term, and every week I would volunteer for half a day. This improved my confidence and my time management skills. The whole experience was invaluable. The university helps you through the program by providing training and covering the costs for transport. You won’t feel alone and helpless!
The university offer experiences such as volunteering in Peru, trekking to Machu Picchu, and The Three Peaks Challenge through RAG (Raising and Giving). These are paired with fundraising goals for certain charities such as The National Autistic Society, Futuresense Foundation, and Mind (to name a few). I took part in The Three Peaks Challenge in my first year and raised over £600 for The National Autistic Charity. This took me out of my comfort zone as I did my first street collection and hosted a Bingo/Karaoke Night on a campus bar. I also learnt how to crochet stars to raise this goal. Finally, I managed to climb three mountains in a short amount of time; this experience has been one of the best in my life so far, and would recommend it to anyone.
Take these opportunities
Extra-curricular activities allow you to become a rounded person who is not only skilled in their degree, but someone who has passion. Experience is crucial for future employment, but also for personal growth. It allows you to take breaks from studying; whether it’s going to an aerobics class with Group Fitness Society or driving round Great Britain climbing Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis, and Snowdon! Take these opportunities that the university offers, as we may never get them again.