Editor's Note: If you are involved in a student group recruiting new members, check out Michael and Kevin's message to student leaders.
Arriving at Penn in August is a thrilling experience. While meeting new friends and exploring the city, first-semester freshmen are immediately thrust into all of the best parts of life at Penn.
However, September brings significant changes to this lackadaisical lifestyle. Classes start. New Student Orientation friend groups start to fade away. You begin to seek out your long-term community at Penn. The dreaded club recruitment process begins. You may find yourself attending info sessions, chatting with club members over coffee, and maybe even spending hours filling out club applications on poorly formatted Google forms.
After applying to countless clubs, you might join the club that you wrote your “Why Penn” essay on. You might be accepted to the club that everyone on your hall has been talking about.
But many — if not most — of you (authors of this article included) might face a disheartening outcome — rejection.
With numerous exclusive clubs on campus, the majority of applicants are rejected from their desired organization. Naturally, this feeling of rejection may be demoralizing, and you may even be questioning your place at Penn.
Despite this, club rejection does not define you or your place at this University. Over the next four years, you will often be tempted to find heuristics to define yourself. It will be easy to rely on GPA, internships (or lack thereof), or even club rejections as tools to characterize yourself.
However, this period of club rejection can be an opportunity to break that cycle before it begins. You cannot be measured by a 10-minute club interview. Your answer to an absurdly specific club application question defines neither your worldview nor how you should be viewed by the world.
In the September of our freshman year, we were both initially rejected from the organizations we now lead (Michael placed 17th in his first Undergraduate Assembly election and Kevin failed to even secure an interview with the University Honor Council on his first try). While failure is a taboo topic on campus, you would be hard-pressed to find any campus leader who did not face rejection early on in their time at Penn.
If you do decide that you are set on continuing with club involvement at Penn, then rejection in September does not spell the end of the road, nor does rejection in October, November, and so on. Countless clubs have open recruitment (searchable via Get Involved at Penn) and even more are excited to take on new members in the spring semester.
Penn houses a myriad of options for finding yourself. Of these options, clubs only represent a small slice. While it is easy for the club recruitment process to leave you jaded and fatigued, remember that this process represents just the first of countless opportunities which you will encounter over the next four years to find your passions and build your community at Penn.
MICHAEL KRONE is a College senior studying political science and economics. He serves as President of the Undergraduate Assembly. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEVIN MYERS is a College senior studying philosophy, politics, and economics. He serves as President of the University Honor Council. His email address is email@example.com.
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