Try something new: application season is upon us

The spring semester is well underway, and students are settled in from the winter break, which means several organizations are now in the middle of recruitment drives.

Students who wish to take a more active role on campus can look around at what different groups do and decide what clubs, groups and committees interest them.

Some organizations accept new members on a rolling basis and accept new members year-round without any kind of formal application.

This is especially true for organizations based on special interests, such as Entertainment Software Producers and Anime O-Tekku.

Other organizations, however, have a slightly more complicated route to joining than others. Some, like the Honor Advisory Council, the Homecoming Committee, the Ramblin’ Reck Club and the Undergraduate Judiciary Committee, have formal applications which are intended to gauge applicants’ willingness and ability to help an organization.

While some simply entail a relatively straightforward fill-in-the-blank style questionnaire, others are a bit more in-depth. Students interested in applying to the President’s Council Governing Board have to go through an application and interview process, and those interested in the Undergraduate Judiciary Committee are required to describe how they would handle a variety of different case scenarios before being considered.

Danielle McDonald, assistant dean of students and director of Student Involvement, states that one of the most important things these applications are looking for is whether an applicant is someone who took an active role in their previous clubs and organizations, or if they were, “…someone who sat in the room and just showed up for meetings.”

“[Organizations often ask if you] can demonstrate that you had an impact on the organization or activity you were involved in and, then, will be able to have an impact in theirs.”

However, McDonald does stress that different organizations look for different things in their applicants.

“Presidents’ Council will ask ‘Were you involved in different organizations?’, ‘Do you understand a president’s perspective on how to run an organization?’ and ‘Do you have ideas for improving campus life?’ [Undergraduate Judiciary Committee] is going to be about honor and integrity, and the responsibilities that come with them, as will the Honor Advisory Council. Ramblin’ Reck is going to be looking for school spirit.

Knowing what the organization is looking for, and the only way to know that is to do research on what each organization is about and tailoring your application or resume to your strengths in those areas.”

McDonald also advises that students interested in applying for an organization that requires both an application and a resume spend more time perfecting their answers on the application rather than polishing their resume, as the questions on the application are the points the organization is really interested in knowing.

If an application does not mention academic performance, but asks for a three-page essay on what school spirit means to you, odds are, they aren’t as interested in what your GPA was the previous semester.

As with most aspects of Tech, the best chance of success comes from starting early. Researching the organizations you are interested in, seeing what they want in their members, attempting to meet these qualifications and spending time writing a thoughtful application go a great deal farther than simply submitting a fluff-filled resume the night before the application is due.

Persistence is also a virtue in this area. McDonald states, “Don’t give up if you aren’t accepted the first time [you apply]. Some organizations just take several times, and you will have built up different experiences over the years.

Also, it may be a different mix of people the next time you apply, and they are looking for you to fit that one different niche the next year.”

There are dozens of ways for students to get involved on campus.

Some require more effort than others, but there are few barriers that can really stand in a student’s way of doing something he/she’s really interested in.

With a bit of careful planning, and more-than-minimal effort put into the application process, students can get involved in anything they dedicate their mind to.