She runs from her 6 p.m. meeting with the history club so she can make her 7p.m. with the student magazine which she edits. She’s late for that, so she stays after everyone leaves to get all of her work done — but now she doesn’t have time to study for her exam next week. It’s okay — she’ll just skip tomorrow’s officer meeting for her professional fraternity to make sure she has time to study and go to the second half (or at least the last 10 minutes) of her service organization’s fundraiser.
This person, of course, is fictional, but it’s probably not hard for most readers to imagine someone they know — if not themselves — who fits this bill. Whether it’s out of pride, upbringing or that always-important résumé, many college students commit to multiple clubs and officer positions, spreading their time thin and having to rob Peter for Paul with participation in each.
Don’t be this person — not for your sake, but everyone else’s.
Make no mistake, there are good reasons not to make too many commitments for your own sake, such as stress reduction and more free time. But I’m guessing if you’re already inclined to be that type of person, those reasons won’t stop you.
So maybe this will: when you take on so many organizational commitments that you can’t fulfill, you aren’t just ruining your college experience, but that of others.
No one wants a club president that doesn’t show, a fraternity officer that doesn’t act or a publication editor that doesn’t edit because he/she has too many other commitments.
I get it. We live in the age of LinkedIn, where everyone is trying to gain the edge over everyone else in terms of employability, and every position you can put on your webpage or talk about in an interview helps. However, taking on a leadership role in a student organization should not be a stepping stone to your next professional goal. Any time you take such a position and don’t deliver on it, you are taking it away from someone who could be more committed and more willing to put time into it, not to mention wasting the time of your club members who are counting on you to do your job.
Some may see overachieving as impressive or even noble, but I’m here to say it could just as easily be selfish. The prefix “over” implies that it is too much, so technically, overachieving by definition can’t be good — a pedantic point, but something to think about if you find yourself describing your personality as such.
First-years, limit your involvement in organizations to what you can fulfill. For others already in this situation, if your volume of leadership commitments limits your participation in any, drop one or more. What would be even better is to just pick one or two of your positions and excel at them; that way you not only fulfill your duty and gain the respect of your peers, but actually learn the skills that, before, you were only claiming you learned on your cover letter.
And for everyone, before you accept a leadership role, honestly ask yourself the following: Am I taking on this role out of altruism and service, or for more self-serving reasons? The answer can certainly be both, but should not be solely the latter.