Do students understand the importance of extra-curricular societies?

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By Pamela Head,

Societies. They cover a wide range of different areas. Ones based on academic fields, religion, sports, culture, food, music, games, a hobby… there’s something for everyone.

Most of them are plugged to us as being something entertaining to occupy your time. You can meet like-minded people or just have a chance to do something unusual, like learning to pole dance or building a toy robot. They’re fun and social, making them the ideal thing to while away your spare time.

Eventually, you’ll leave university with a degree and start your working life with fun memories, having used societies as a break from studying. But is this really their only use?

Samer Ibrahim, a postgraduate student, said: “I joined some societies mainly as a break from my degree and for a social life... I did join another society because I thought it would be useful for my profession though.”

For many, your employability relies not only on whether you have qualifications, but also on what experience you have in the field.

Jamie Finn, resident DJ at Indiecate and No Wave founder said: “Education is massively important but the degree with which we get it at university is questionable. What university does offer though, is a few years away from the working world and a network of people who to an extent share a like mind.”

For those interested in creative or media-related careers, experience is more beneficial than a degree in the eyes of employers. In the words of a media professional I met recently: “Given the choice between a 2.2 student with a writing experience and a 1.1 student with none, I’d always choose the experience.”

As a result, a large number of students interested in these types of careers throw themselves headlong into societies and seize every opportunity, sometimes even prioritizing them ahead of their studies. The idea behind it is that sacrifices have to be made, whether it’s your social life or your degree.

Clearly, extra-curricular societies play a significant role for most students. But the motivation behind it differs, as does the understanding of its importance. Whether you’re joining one for fun or for experience, societies are an invaluable part of the university experience.