Learn to manage your student activities

Two student actors perform in a Scotch’n’Soda performance of The Mystery of Edmund Drood. (credit: file photo) Two student actors perform in a Scotch’n’Soda performance of The Mystery of Edmund Drood. (credit: file photo) Eric Wu, the Student Body Vice President for Finance, poses for an election photo.  (credit: file photo) Eric Wu, the Student Body Vice President for Finance, poses for an election photo. (credit: file photo)

If you’re like most students here at Carnegie Mellon, chances are that, during the Student Activities Fair, you signed up for about 50 d-lists. And chances are that, when you returned home, you were shocked to find your inbox flooded with information about info-sessions, meetings, and audition times. It really is the plague of the Carnegie Mellon student — with so many amazing activities and opportunities on campus, how do students manage to participate in everything they’re interested in while maintaining their grades in a stressful academic environment?

While you may want to participate in every activity, the truth of the matter is that you really shouldn’t. Clubs would rather have 10 members who are sincerely committed to their job and responsibility than 50 uninvolved members. The key is finding what you really want to do and committing to it. If you are the type of person who needs to do something different every once in a while, then the best option for you may be to alternate your commitments every semester. This way you can experience everything that you want to while properly showing dedication to your activities. If you’re the type of person who loves leadership positions, maybe committing yourself to one or two activities is the way to go.

The key is finding your own personal balance. It just may be that you’re the type of person who can overload by 18 units, audition for an a cappella group, play a club sport, and work at the radio station while running for a position in student government. If you find you can maintain your grades with that level of participation, then go for it. Odds are, however, that such a schedule would be a little heavy for you, and that’s fine. Once again, it’s all about finding out just how much time you have to commit to non-academic activities and choosing your commitments based on that evaluation.

If you are able to get an accurate idea of your availability, the next step is choosing your commitments. The Activities Fair, while extremely helpful, can be a bit intimidating at times. Walking through lines of tables with people screaming at you as they throw pencils, pins, and flyers in your face can get a little overwhelming, and you may find yourself signing up for everything. There are a lot of interesting clubs at Carnegie Mellon, and only by trying everything can you figure out which commitments you should stick with.

Whether you’re into sports, politics, arts, philanthropy, or publications, chances are that Carnegie Mellon has a club for you. While it would be impossible to try out the over 200 student organizations, you can narrow down your interests by genre to find the perfect campus organization for you.


Some of the most anticipated campus performances are those put on by the various student clubs on campus. From theater and music to comedy, the gifted students at Carnegie Mellon are working hard to make sure that the rest of the student body is entertained throughout the school year.

Students in Dancer’s Symposium — a club commonly referred to as “DS” — are dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers. The group practices various cultural styles of dance as well as traditional and modern styles, performing their original student choreography throughout the year at highly anticipated performances. The Ballroom Dance Club is also an extremely popular club on campus. Although they practice an impressive array of dance styles, the club accepts all members (from complete beginners to competitive experts) and even offers dance classes throughout the school year for those looking to improve their steps. Carnegie Mellon’s Bhangra team, Chak De, and the Tanah South Asian Dance Troupe are great teams to join for diverse styles of dancing. Both groups perform at the prestigious Bhangra in the ’Burgh, and can be found dancing in practice rooms and at the UC late-night events throughout the year.
Carnegie Mellon also has several club options for those interested in vocal performance. With a wide array of a cappella groups including Counterpoint, Deewane, Joyful Noise, The Originals, and Soundbytes, there are options for all types of singers out there.

Carnegie Mellon’s student-run theatre group Scotch’n’Soda is one of the oldest student theatre organizations in the country and has been known to produce incredible shows. With student directors, producers, actors, instrumentalists, and stage crews, every part of Scotch’n’Soda feels familiar.

Additionally, student comedy troupes like Off the Top and The Carnegie Mellon University Variety Hour are known to produce hilarious material. If getting laughs is more your thing, consider joining one of these groups.

Naturally, there are plenty of other performance groups on campus, but if you still aren’t able to find an activity that fits your needs, you may look into starting your own club.


If athletics are your thing, Carnegie Mellon has several club sports for you to participate in. From lacrosse and frisbee to skiing and snowboarding, there are clubs for almost every sport you can think of. If you prefer to participate in non-team sports, there are also clubs like the Running Club, which provides students with a group-like atmosphere for exercise.

Aside from sport teams, however, there are several other genres of clubs that have ties to athletics. The Kiltie Band and the Cheerleading team perform at football games throughout the year. If school pride is your thing, consider joining something like the Carnegie Clan, a club that bases itself around its school pride.


Aside from The Tartan, students on campus are publishing several other genres of written media. Dossier, Carnegie Mellon’s student art and literary magazine that is affiliated with The Tartan, produces a new issue every semester. The Oakland Review is a student-run literary journal that publishes undergraduate creative writing each year. The Thistle is Carnegie Mellon’s yearbook, and the club works hard to compile photos and memories from throughout the year.

There are several other publication-based clubs on campus, including the Melon Graphic Novel Club, The Triple Helix, Thought, and The Cut, Carnegie Mellon’s only music magazine.

Technology and Gaming

Naturally, there are several technology-based clubs here on campus. If you’re into music and audio engineering, you might consider joining WRCT, the student-run radio station, or one of the various branches of the Activities Board.

Obviously enough, the Robotics Club is quite popular; however, techies can also get involved in cmuTV, Computer Club, or even Astronomy Club. The Carnegie Mellon technology clubs work hard to make sure that our campus is up-to-date with the latest advantages. As Carnegie Mellon began as technical school, we take pride in living up to our reputation.


If you’re interested in giving back, there are plenty of events and organizations on campus for you to join. ALLIES, an organization that supports the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community, also partakes in several LGBT awareness events. If you don’t have plans for your next vacation, consider joining Alternative Break and traveling abroad to do community service.

There are also several ways to get involved within the Pittsburgh community through campus clubs. Carnegie Cares provides students with various service opportunities around Pittsburgh. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of CMU utilizes the “one adult, one child” philosophy to help mentor Pittsburgh youth. There are also several religious support groups on campus that hold service events.

Politics, student leadership, and cultural clubs

If you like to have a say in how things are run on campus, consider joining Student Senate, CMU Politics, or Mock Trial. There are also several groups that are election-based, like student government. If you are an avid member of the green revolution, consider joining Sustainable Earth and helping the university maintain its green practices. There are also several multicultural groups on campus to support the always-increasing diversity at Carnegie Mellon. Whatever your race, gender, or religion, chances are there is a support group for you.

The many extracurricular opportunities in our community can be overwhelming at times, but they always keep our campus interesting. There is hardly ever an eventless week on campus, so if you’re trying to figure out which organizations are for you, you should experiment by attending different events and club activities. Student clubs and organizations are like small families; the feeling of belonging that one can get from getting involved is unsurpassable.