Written by: Karina Acevedo // Sep 8, 2020
Last updated: Oct 28, 2020
One of the most exciting and valuable aspects of the college experience is the opportunity for involvement and leadership on campus. Becoming a student leader adds to the enrichment of your learning experience and to the enrichment of the campus. Some campuses may feel like a small town and others may feel like big cities, but all of them benefit from the diversity of their students’ experiences. Everyone has something to contribute, including you! Let’s dive into how to become a student leader on campus.
What is Student Leadership?
Student leaders are less worried about fitting in, and more concerned with being authentic and living their lives in ways that reflect their personal values. You are a leader every time you get involved with your campus and strive to make it a more inclusive and equitable place.
Student leadership exists in the conversations that you engage your friends in, the respect you show to all people on campus, and the manner that you choose to live your life. It also exists in the extracurricular organizations you may choose to get involved in or even start.
Campus involvement opportunities may include:
- Intramural sports
- Student government
- Honor societies
- Community service organizations
- Cultural organizations
- Residence hall organizations
- Greek life organizations
Your campus may have offices to help you identify leadership opportunities:
- USF’s Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement outlines various initiatives for leadership development, including a certified student leader program, a leadership studies minor, retreats, and workshops. The Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement also explains how to join or start student organizations and even how to manage your organization remotely.
- The BullSync directory allows you to get connected with any student organization.
- The Office of Multicultural Affairs offers different trainings, such as LGBTQ+ education and allyship and allyship for undocumented students, that make the campus safer, friendlier, and more equitable for others. This office also maintains a helpful resource page for current and future students.
Connecting with offices like these is a quick and easy way to get more involved.
Qualities of Student Leaders
Student leaders inspire and encourage others on their campus. They have integrity and are inclusive and authentic. As a leader, you should:
- Remain curious and questioning.
- Learn from mistakes.
- Ask for help when necessary.
- Delegate tasks.
- Learn how to use everyone on your team to their strengths and motivate them to be their personal best.
- Be kind to others and learn effective communication skills.
- Be passionate about the activities you join and lead.
Developing Emotional Intelligence as a Student Leader
It is important for leaders to understand both others and themselves.
Good leaders read widely to understand the human condition. One of my favorite books is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Although the book was originally published in 1936, it still holds many truths that are strikingly relevant today. Students who are interested in leadership would benefit from picking up a copy of this book.
Personality quizzes can help you understand yourself.
- This personality quiz by 16Personalities claims to provide a “description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.”
- Gallup administers a CliftonStrengths assessment that measures and categorizes your talents into 34 CliftonStrengths themes. They also provide in-depth explanations of your strengths and recommendations on how to use them in the classroom or in a work environment.
- Idealist offers a quiz that aligns you to your leadership style and resources to help you hone your leadership skills.
Student leadership is important in shaping your college experience and impacting your campus. It’s never too soon or too late to jump right in. If you’re ready to stampede with the Bulls and become a student leader, apply now.