Should you join a CCA when studying in University?


So some people have been asking me,

“Is it important to join a CCA in university?”

CCAs (Co-curriculum Activities), at least in my school, are not mandatory. This is certainly a refreshing change for some people who attended schools that made CCA compulsory. There is now so much more time to pursue your hobbies and things that interest you.

However, herd mentality kicks in. When you see your friends spending their hours on a CCA and also being popular for that, you start wondering if it is important to be active in school apart from studies.

Therefore the abovementioned question.

These are some reasons why you should actually join a CCA while in University, based on my own experiences.

  1. Friends


The first obvious reason to join a CCA is that you’ll make friends. When you join a CCA that isn’t mandatory, you’ll easily find friends with similar interests as you. If you join the soccer club, you’ll find friends who like soccer. If you join a club where people learn how to invest, and you’ll definitely find not only friends with the same interests but also mentors who will teach you as well. Compared to a classroom where people mostly fight for grades, a CCA is a relaxing place where you can find like-minded friends to do projects and undertake games and activities together. It’s a respite in school itself.

  1. Skills and Experience


Moreover, participating in a CCA and some other related school activities like fund-raising, events, etc, can equip you with the practical skills and experiences that no class can teach you. In class, you learn theory. While that is useful, you will still learn the most when placed in the deep-end of the pool and are asked to swim. You can learn the specific skillsets, such as learning how to play pool in a Pool club, and also the soft skills such as interpersonal relationships (like making friends) and teamwork. In short, participating in a CCA teaches you many real-life skills that can’t be learnt in class. It provides you with an avenue to make mistakes and learn from them.

  1. Employers

Business group meeting portrait - Five business people working together. A diverse work group.

Increasing, employers are not only looking out for GPA/CAP anymore. They now look at what you do in school, and whether you have pursued any leadership positions. I once asked an ex-HSBC Manager, and she says that, “Nowadays, people are getting so smart. It is common to have 90% of our applicants having a full score in their GPA/CAP. You need another differentiating factor. That’s why we look at CCAs.”

CCAs allow employers to differentiate students more easily. It shows that apart from studying, you’re a three-dimensional person who is fun, interactive, and can work in teams. You have the capacity to perform well when it matters and also to pursue other activities that makes you a fun and engaging person to hire. Imagine reading though 100+ resumes and they all say the same thing: Same grades, same school, same interests, etc. A CCA can actually get an employer to think, “Interesting, I’d probably want to know more about this person.”

  1. Leadership


Having leadership positions are also a huge plus as people can have an idea of what type of leadership positions you go for, and how open you are when it comes to leading people. Leadership opportunities come frequently, especially in schools where most events are student-led. This extends all the way to Community Service Projects. There is no excuse of not having an opportunity to lead!

Building on from the previous point, leadership experience helps your employers to know what kind of leader you are, or if you can even lead. This certainly sets you apart from someone who is applying for a Management position.

Building on from the previous previous point, you can definitely learn a lot along the way when you’re placed in the hot-seat of decision making. You need to think fast, act fast, and work with people fast. This is certainly something different from many other projects in school.

  1. Acing the interview

I’ve heard from my own seniors how they spent more time during an interview talking about what they did in their CCA instead of what they studied.

An interview is a story-telling session. Everybody says that they’re committed and hardworking. Rather, it is much more entertaining and credible if you had a story to back it up. A CCA gives you an opportunity to create these stories (realistically, of course!), allowing you to impress your interviewers.


In case you haven’t noticed, this is also a recruitment attempt on behalf of SMU Broadcast and Entertainment. If you’re interested to find out more, do visit our Facebook page

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