Making Connections

One of the best things I have done since beginning graduate school at IU is joining a student organization. In my case, I joined the Latino Graduate Student Organization (LGSA). Being a member of LGSA has helped me both academically and socially by making connections with students and faculty.

As graduate students, we tend to stick within our department. Through LGSA I have met students and faculty from various departments such as History and Anthropology and the School of Education. Speaking with people from different disciplines has helped me learn how to frame my research in a way that others can understand it and find it relevant. In addition, it has exposed me to the different types of research being done at IU.

Perhaps the best part about joining a student organization is the supportive community it has to offer. Through LGSA I have formed strong friendships with other grad students. It is great to have people who you can talk to about the challenges and successes you experience in grad school, and life in general.

At IU there are numerous organizations that graduate students can join. I’m sure you can find one that fits what you are looking for!


Get Involved! Graduate Student Organizations

As an aspiring student affairs professional, if I have not learned anything else in my graduate studies, I have learned that ALL students should have diverse learning experiences that help them grow and develop holistically. Sometimes these experiences happen outside of the classroom in extracurricular activities. This does not only hold true for undergraduate students but for graduate students as well! It is so important to get involved in student organizations.

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Do you consider joining a student organization at IU?

Knowing that IU is a very big university, I was still very surprised to find out IU offers more than 750 student organizations. Can you believe it? 750 student organizations—nearly 1000 options to choose from! These student organizations all founded and led by students. Each student organization works in a different areas but their common goal is to connect those who of the same interests for experience sharing and mutual development. On a campus of 40,000 students, involving in a student organization is a great way to feel connected and improve yourself in multiple ways. And yes, like IU, these organizations are very diverse. Their activities are categorized into 15 groups including:

  • Academic and Professional
  • Advocacy and Political
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Environmental
  • Fraternity and Sorority
  • Governance
  • Graduate
  • Honorary
  • International & Multi-Cultural
  • Religious & Spiritual
  • Social
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Service and Philanthropy

So why joining in a student organization matters? Here are the analyses by IU Student Life and Learning Center:

  • Joining in a student organization provides students with real-life opportunities to practice problem solving, teamwork, ethical decision-making, and responsible engagement with the local and global communities in which they live.
  •  Participating in a student organization can help you gain experience in a particular field of interest, find an outlet for recreation, or learn about something completely new to you.
  • Getting involved outside of the classroom not only supplements your traditional education, but also helps to prepare you for life after graduation.
  • Joining an organization will enhance your college experience.

Student organizations have their own bank account provided by IU and they can request a specialized office for meetings or group activities. IU also has lots of support services for student organizations especially when they want to organize events. Those services include venue, security, stage light, projectors…Almost everything you need to organize an event is supported by IU as long as your student organization hosts the event. Every year, Office of International Students (OIS), Asian Center, International Center, etc organize programs like IU World Fair, Mr & Ms. Asia…to connect these student organizations together. Those are great events that student organizations gather to do cultural exhibitions or cook their traditional food to offer to visitors. I attend these events every year and they are all GREAT!!! You should DEFINITELY not miss these events.

For those who are interested in establishing your own student organization, that is easy! IU encourages you to do that! All you need to do is following the instructions given by Student Life and Learning Center. Regarding the funding for student organizations, IU has its own grants targeted specifically to student organizations. Other than the funding from IU, you can also look for funding from other sources like banks, community organizations, foundations based in Bloomington. For instance, Chase Bank provides us (the Vietnamese Student Association) funding annually to organize Lunar New Year (we call it “Tet”). As long as you want to get involved, there are unlimited resources around for you to mobilize and support your group. Application procedure to get funding is very convenient and easy: You need to submit a proposal and a financial budget for your group activities (please make sure to submit at least 03-04 months before the date of the event). The grant officer will review your proposal and make decision. Very often you will get the grant, as IU wants to spend money on you and your group’s development

For further information about student organizations, here is the link: