Create Your College Experience - How Being Involved at FSW Can Benefit You

We embark on our college adventure with a sense of anticipation, nerves (we all felt them), and excitement! Excitement to finally have that “college experience” we imagined.

I envision the college experience having two parts: (1). The experience we gain in class through our academics and (2). The experience we gain out-of-class through our involvement on campus.

Involvement on campus comes in all shapes and sizes: joining a club; participating in intramural sports; attending an event, like Spirit Day, with friends; working on campus as a peer mentor or tutor; stopping by the table in the breezeway to check out trivia (and win that Bucs t-shirt); volunteering; study abroad; honors programs; meeting with a professor during office hours. I could go on-and-on… but, you get the point.

I know what you’re thinking… “Linda, I’m busy. I don’t have time to get involved.” I get it. We juggle a lot, but getting involved in college is important and something you should try to prioritize. Of course, our academics come first. However, there are so many great benefits to becoming involved on campus that will make your efforts worth it!


Through involvement, you’ll discover skills, talents, and interests that you may not have recognized you had. For example, multiple students have told me that they don’t see themselves as a leader. However, I watch them step into roles as peer mentors or club presidents and they flourish in their positions. While doing so, they realize their strengths and learn how to apply them in different ways, further developing their skills. College is the perfect (and safe) environment to try new things and step out of your comfort zone to broaden your skills.

Make connections

You’ll meet and connect with so many new people: students, staff/faculty, and community members. Expanding your network is exciting and very valuable. You’ll find mentors that become your support system… and your biggest cheerleaders.  While in college, our mentors teach us invaluable life lessons and connect us to leadership opportunities or resources. After college, they can become a reference and a guide as you seek your first entry-level job with your degree. Additionally, you’ll create lifelong friends that share the same interests and goals as you and whom you’ll remain in contact with long after you graduate.

Resume builder

Job searching can be a competitive process and you want to make yourself marketable. By becoming involved on campus, you will enhance your leadership, time management, and soft skills, which makes you a stronger candidate when transferring to a university, applying for internships or grad school, and seeking that first entry-level job. It also allows you to start getting hands-on experience and applying what you learn. Additionally, you’ll learn how to work with people with different backgrounds and experiences. When you’re at an interview and they ask “What is your strength” or “Have worked on a team,” not only can you tell them “yes,” but you can give them a specific example based on your involvement.

Alleviate stress… and have some fun!

We all need a break! Sometimes we can start to overwhelm ourselves. Becoming involved gives us a moment to take a step back and engage in a different (perhaps more relaxed) manner.  It’s alright to have a little fun and some laughs! You deserve it!

I have had the pleasure of working with student leaders not only at FSW, but also across Florida through a state-wide organization. I can guarantee that I never experienced a student regretting their choice to become involved with their college, and I am amazed and excited to see how their experiences lead them to some fantastic academic and career opportunities.

But what is also exciting to see are the amazing memories being made: the random dance parties that break out at an event; the achievement of your club hosting an activity; the laughter from participating in a silly team builder at a workshop; the sense of independence you feel when you step off the plane for a study abroad trip; the piece of advice we receive from a mentor that we will always carry with us; the feeling of accomplishment from working together to clean a local beach or park; cheering “Go Bucs!” with the crowd as the basketball team makes multiple dunks; the group study session with classmates that went late and ended at IHOP at midnight for a study break (and some pancakes); reading your acceptance letter to grad school or accepting your first job offer.  

That, my friends, is all part of the college experience! It formulates through your involvement, and, yes, it’s valuable in so many different ways.

I always encourage my students to take a temperature check. (No, don’t take out a thermometer. I mean do some self-reflection). Now I ask you to do the same. Ask yourself: am I creating the college experience I want? Am I taking advantage of all the benefits that college gives me? If not, start seeking those opportunities to get involved and creating your college experience. The opportunities and the support are there… you need to only take them!

Linda Johnsen is the assistant director of Student Engagement on the FSW Collier Campus.

*FSW student activity photos in this article were taken prior to COVID-19.