In My Own Words
Thoughts on Education, Artistry, and Leadership

Will your student organization still going to be around next fall? We’re coming up on April, a special time of year on college campuses. The days are getting longer, temperatures are rising, and students are looking ahead to their plans after the spring term ends.

This is also the time of year that so many student organizations quietly fade into oblivion. Of course, that’s not the intention of the student leaders. It’s just so easy to put off planning for the next academic year with all those exams, projects, and—let’s face it—friends wanting to hang out in the warm breezes.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things that student leaders can do now to be ready after the summer:

  1. Elect and install leaders now. By this time of the year, students are looking for a new challenge. Select new leaders for next year now, and have them start thinking about their aspirations. There’s a side benefit of transitioning leaders before the summer: The new leaders have a couple months to learn from the outgoing students before they leave. Collect contact information for everyone and pick dates to touch base monthly during the summer with a Google+ Hangout, Skype chat, or even an old fashioned conference call.
  2. Establish and promote the fall calendar of events. It’s hard to have a strong kick off to the year if you’re scrambling as first year students are moving in. It’s going to look like the organization doesn’t know what it’s doing. Instead, take an hour or two to decide what kind of events your group will do to attract new members when students arrive in the fall. Reserve rooms before you leave for the summer and sign up for the fall involvement fair while you’re at it. Don’t forget to assign responsibilities for executing the events! (Better yet, plan the entire next academic year, so that the new officers elected in March or April have some canned programs ready to go.)
  3. Write down your goals and plans. Sometimes things happen over the summer to screw up your best laid plans. The newly elected president transfers to another school, or your event planner is picked for the starting lineup and is too busy for your group, or your summer internship was so awesome that you completely forgot what you planned. Save the last minute panic and record your plans for the fall. Now, give a copy to all of your group’s leaders as well as your adviser, and keep a copy in your e-mail account for good measure.
  4. Throw a senior send-off soirée. Pick a date in the last couple weeks of class to throw an informal party. Recognize your graduating seniors and the outgoing officers with some fun awards while grilling out in the quad. Invite friends who aren’t in the club (but don’t tell them they’re being recruited!) and take the opportunity to pass out the fall calendar of events so that everyone is looking forward to a great year after the summer. Then toss around a Frisbee, enjoy the warm breeze, and send everyone on their way.

Now that your student organization is ready for next year, don’t forget to finish up that class project you’ve been procrastinating on. Oh, and be sure to study up for those final exams!

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