140 years of student involvement

Javaune Adams-Gaston
Vice President for Student Life


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Student involvement has deep roots in Ohio State’s history. Dr. J explains why “getting involved” helps students succeed.


As one of the largest universities in the nation, The Ohio State University offers countless opportunities for students to be involved, immersed, entertained and deeply engaged in the holistic collegiate experience. Ohio State’s Columbus campus is home to 1,100 student organizations, 11,000 residential students (with thousands more in the neighboring community), more than 13,000 student employees and thousands of events, developmental workshops, programs and activities.

The university’s “get involved” message starts as early as the recruitment process, and is sustained throughout a student’s time at Ohio State, including in our graduate and professional schools.

Student involvement has deep roots in Ohio State’s history. Just one year after the university opened in 1873, the first organization for men was founded, the Alcyone Literary Society. In 1882, the creation of the Browning Literary Society marked the first organization for women. By 1888, 12 organizations were available to the 200 university and 150 preparatory students.

It is important to acknowledge that, while involvement is an effective way to enhance a resume and to spend free time, it also contributes significantly to a student’s success and development.

Involved and engaged students tend to perform better academically. They report better-developed transferrable skills that are important to prospective employers, including time management, ability to take initiative and ability to communicate effectively with others. Students who work for Ohio State’s Office of Student Life report that their employment has contributed to improved interpersonal skills. Students who engage in community service are more likely to value differences in others. More than 82% of students who live in university housing feel connected to the Ohio State community, compared with 65% of those who live off-campus.

Qualitative research with donors also suggests that students who are more involved with the university while in school tend to be more engaged with Ohio State after they graduate. In a recent study, a Student Life donor said, “(involvement) was such a big part of my campus life, and I want to make sure others have the same opportunities I had.”

Student involvement offers countless opportunities for invaluable personal growth. Engagement with student organizations can help students further develop their own moral and ethical code, support the advancement of confidence in their abilities and create valuable networking skills and opportunities. Involvement gives students hands-on experience in setting goals, establishing timelines and managing projects, all of which are valuable to prospective employers.

Being involved can also offer valuable lessons in resiliency, which is becoming more important in the increasingly competitive environment in which we live. Many of Ohio State’s most decorated student leaders cite experience with adversity within a cohort group as a defining moment in their growth as a person and professional.

I frequently talk with students who are trying to find their place at Ohio State and, ultimately, in life. I tell them the most important discovery they can make is their own passion, what interests them, what makes them excited to start the day. And there is no better place to make these discoveries than at The Ohio State University. This community is teeming with culture, intellectual challenges and the diversity of people and ideas. Ohio State is the ideal place to explore, without limits, the possibilities that the world has to offer, and student involvement is unarguably a way to begin the journey. Students will benefit from their involvement, the university will benefit from this engagement, and our world will be a better place because of their success as a citizen in our global society.


About the author

Javaune Adams-Gaston
Javaune Adams-Gaston - adams-gaston.1@osu.edu
Vice President for Student Life

Dr. J, as she is affectionately called, oversees the operations of the Office of Student Life and its constituent departments.

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Buckeye Voices — Commentary from The Ohio State University


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