Whether as a passion, hobby, or a potential career, environmental enthusiasts have tons of ways to get involved in college. Here's where to look (even if you attend a not-so-green campus).
Many colleges host residence hall communities where students share a common interest like music, political engagement, or the green lifestyle. When you're signing up for housing as a first-year, see if any of the dorms have a floor for residents dedicated to green living. You'll always be tapped into the green goings-on on-campus, or at the very least, have a buddy for trips to the Farmers Market. Plus, colleges usually sponsor special events for residence hall communities like faculty panels, trips, or film series.
Joining a green student club is a great way to pursue your passion for the environment, make friends, and do some good. To find out what's available, attend the student activities fair, usually held at the beginning of each semester, or visit the student activities page on your school's website. If you notice a vacuum, you can always fill it!
The role of student government is to advocate for students on issues that affect them. If you'd like a more direct say about sustainability issues on campus, think about applying for a position. Student governments can be huge enterprises with a number of committees and delegations to join, and they often work with big budgets. See your say make a tangible difference on campus.
Colleges that make sustainability a priority will often offer green-centric majors like environmental entrepreneurship or sustainable development and provide green career advising to match. But if you don't want to make sustainability such a formalized foundation of your education, there are tons of other educational options to explore. Many schools offer Sustainability 101 courses, plus hosts of electives that apply sustainability concepts to a wide range of fields.
Cast your eye beyond campus to the community at large for opportunities that will get you on the ground. Find student groups dedicated to outreach in the community or volunteer opportunities that have an environmental or social focus. A quick search on your school’s website for “community outreach,” “student service,” or “community engagement” will get you started. Some one-off programs will take just a Saturday of your time while others will ask you to commit for a semester.
You can also make green a consideration when you look for ways to build job skills in college or when seeking part-time work and internships. If you need some writing experience to ramp up your résumé, try blogging for a green organization or volunteering to write and edit promotional material for a green student group. Or, if you are seeking accounting experience, why not apply for the bookkeeping position at your campus' student-run food collective?
If you've got a good idea, act on it! Many schools have Green Funds that seed innovative ideas in environmental sustainability from students, faculty, and staff. Some will even create paid student positions on campus or will fund what would otherwise be unpaid or underpaid internships.