I would hate to start off this piece with a cliché, but I find myself at a lack of words when asked to describe my college experience thus far. And so here I am, just into my 3rd year of university and going back to a daily rhythm of exco meetings, CCA briefings, CCA recruitment drives, trainings, rehearsals, meetings with OSL (Office of Student Life, aka the big bosses) and of course, constantly trying to come up with new ways to get funding for my respective clubs. Oh, and getting back to classes.
But I digress. From my well-curated collection of college clichés, I would like to present the following as my favourite: College is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the world, and more importantly, about yourself. It is up to you how you make that happen.
My past 2 years in SMU have been nothing short of exciting, fast-paced, stressful and rewarding, all at once. And although I may have learnt a thing or two in cold seminar rooms or from my diverse groupmates, the bulk of my learning and personal development has come from my involvement in various CCAs. So for those of you who may have any doubts as to whether or not you should devote a portion of your lives to any co-curricular: listen up.
CCAs are great places to meet new and amazing people. For starters, you can easily find like-minded individuals when you join a club that interests you, and this immediately gives you something to bond over. Over time, your CCA mates will begin to feel like family as you begin to spend a lot of your time in school with them. Unless you have a fixed handful of friends to bid classes with every semester, you’re unlikely to find the familiar faces in your classes again due to the sheer number of people in the school. The only people who will remain a comforting constant are your CCA mates. When you find a steady group of friends in your respective club(s), the late night meetings, trainings and rehearsals become so much easier to go through.
Learning should, by right, be our key priority when we enter university. But like mentioned above, it is entirely up to each individual how he/she wants to go about the process. Personally, I find that my learning has been two-pronged when it comes to my co-curriculars. I have developed many hard skills that I otherwise would not have picked up in our largely theory-based modules. I have been forced to learn certain things such as how to plan international events, how to draft annual budgets (oh, the horror), how to negotiate with external vendors, how to negotiate with OSL, how to put up a theatrical production from A to Z and, during a particularly nerve-wrecking incident – how to fumble through an interview at a media release while pretending to be an adult, despite an utter lack of sleep.
Source: SMU Blog
At the same time, my various CCAs have added to a sizeable extent of my personal development in SMU. I like to think that this was possible through a very simple “pull and push” system. On your end, you need to constantly push yourself hard to meet deadlines, follow through on commitments and put the club above yourself – all while juggling school work, a social life and perhaps even a part-time job. But like any good investment, the reward is always greater than the initial sacrifice, because clubs and CCAs just have a natural pull. Not only are the opportunities and experiences fantastic, but there exists a steady undercurrent of independence and personal satisfaction. The satisfaction of pulling off a spectacular show, a riveting match, a successful pitch or even kick-starting a project to help the needy, is single-handedly enough to make everything worth it. It honestly is a wonderful feeling.
But I’m not going to hide the truth – sometimes it gets so physically and mentally exhausting that you just want to give up on everything and binge watch The Office at home for a week. But sooner or later, as I have found it to be, you remember what made you believe in the club at first, and why you decided to combine your passion with your conviction to make a difference. You look back on how satisfying and fulfilling it is to see the audience thundering with applause; to score that winning goal; to deliver that perfect melody; to have your work shared by so many people – and suddenly, the realisation dawns on you that it is all worth it. Some call it personal satisfaction. I call it a “hell yeah” moment.
As someone who has spent a solid amount of time on co-curriculars and excos for the past 4 semesters, trust me when I say this: You should join a CCA because it is one of the most enriching and fun experiences you will possibly have in SMU. No ragrets. (Not even one letter.)
Also, it’s always fun to shout “hell yeah” while pumping your fist up in the air with a sense of pride and victory.