For many undergraduates, joining extra-curricular societies is an essential part of the university experience. Not only is it a chance to meet new people; it is also an opportunity to find your true calling. Who knows, maybe you’re an Archery gold medallist in waiting.
LSE is particularly strong in this regard, hosting a wide array of different societies. Many of them can serve as great introductions to future careers or sectors that you may be interested in. Here you can establish exactly what you may or may not be interested in beyond your studies, and also develop friendships and connections which may last beyond your university years.
Alternatively, there are many societies for more extra-curricular pursuits – Drama, Chess, Beekeeping, to name a few. While they may not be as directly helpful if you are thinking about future career moves, they are vital in their own right.
I say this not just as someone who failed to join any more career-orientated societies in five years of higher education. Playing sports, acting, or other such pursuits can help develop a wide range of skills, including decision-making, teamwork and communication.
Masters’ students may deem societies not worth their time. When you have several books a week to read and assessments to complete, sometimes Beekeeping pursuits have to be put on hold.
However, don’t let the fact that you are no longer an undergraduate put you off. Beginning a Master’s degree is an intense experience. Joining a society can be a great way of counteracting this, in times when there are not imminent deadlines, but also – indeed especially – when you are getting towards exam season.
This does not mean I would necessarily take up an activity that would eat up several hours a day. If a society starts eating away too much at your weekly reading then it is worth easing off. I was part of a drama group for the first year of my postgraduate. At times I certainly asked myself why on earth I had signed up to do this. Missing a boat trip organised to celebrate the tenth anniversary of my course in order to partake in some student theatre keeps me awake at night to this day.
But I am convinced that it helped me in my studies. Knowing that you have a fixed point during the day when you will not be studying can focus your mind while reading.
More than anything, however, it kept me sane. It was nice to be able to have a couple of hours to unwind and do something I enjoyed. When working in such an intense environment, a space entirely separate from my course and the intensity that comes with higher education is hugely valuable.
Societies can provide you with friends for life and a different picture of the university. The extra-curricular side of university life remains a wide and often rewarding way of making the most out of these years. The pandemic certainly raises questions about how this will work, at least in the immediate future. However, if at all possible, exploring the societies in offer can be hugely rewarding. This applies to postgraduates too.
The list of societies at LSE is available here