Can You Be Too Involved?

From the moment we first set foot on this campus we are told of the importance of getting involved. Whether by joining clubs or finding your fit in an organization, student involvement on campus is the best way to meet people, build your resume and explore your interests. However, when we take a step back and strip away all the hype we can’t help but ask ourselves, can you be too involved?

Penn State boasts over 1,200 clubs and organizations across its 20 campuses—and while it’s humanly impossible to actively participate in them all we wondered, how many were too many?

We talked to junior marketing major and social butterfly, Layla Taremi, to get her take on being involved around campus. She dances for Volé Ballet and Ambitions dance companies, is the president and founder of Sisters on the Runway, has been a THON dancer relations committee member and is a sister of the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity.

Staring at her impressive list of extracurricular commitments, Taremi laughs and says, “It’s not always a good thing.”

Taremi continues to tell us that the “majority of [her] life” is overwhelming and although she’s stressed a lot she rarely gets sad, upset or loses sanity because she surrounds herself with positivity.

Taremi stresses the importance of having an organized schedule to balance her daily routine. Also important is the ability to prioritize, “Academics are always first”, says Taremi.

“I always surround myself with friends. Despite the fact that involvement is important, you need personal time. I’d say that’s the most important thing.” Taremi says.

After talking with Taremi, we followed up with an expert—Jeff Zapletal, the Program Director of Student Activities at Penn State. Zapletal concurs that it is possible to be too involved and says he has seen it many times before.

“It really becomes a problem when a student’s involvement begins to impact their academics, their health, or both,” says Zapletal.

When asked “how involved a student should be”, Zapletal says, “There has actually been research on this, but as far as we’re concerned there is no correct ratio or number.”

Although everyone’s personal involvement varies, Zapletal has some advice on maintaining a good balance. He recommends finding an organization complimentary to your major and countering that with a club that caters to your personal interests.

For those of you worried about building up your resumé, Zapletal confirms what matters is quality over quantity.

“What we hear from employers is it’s better to be really involved in a couple things, because it helps to show leadership, rather than simply being a member in four or five different organizations,” says Zapletal.

While there’s no specific number when it comes to maxing out on student activities, as everyone’s threshold for stress and ability to time manage is different, it can be said there’s a very fine line between being involved and being too involved.

So before you sign up for everything of interest at the involvement fair, think about it. Make the most of your time at Penn State by getting involved, but don’t kill yourself trying.