Think about student leaders at your school. You probably visualize a group of the very involved students, the ones who are in and out of your office. These students always seem to be in three places at once. They inspire and amaze you every day, and you work hard to support them and watch them succeed.
But sometimes you might think about the ones who don’t walk into your office at all, the ones you have never met. It makes you wonder what the world would gain if these students explored their talents more. What would happen if they learned about leadership, whatever that means for them? But how do we engage them, when no matter how much work went into the latest big program, they won’t attend in the first place?
Luckily, your familiar student leaders are all you need to help engage those students so that really feel at home and involved on campus.
The trick is to work with your leaders on building small moments that pack a big punch into every day that they are at your institution. Find ways to introduce the culture of your school that are not overwhelming to a student who hasn’t found their niche yet in the greater community. Give them a reason to pick their head up on the way to dinner and interact with someone they haven’t met yet.
A few ideas to discuss with your students:
1. Don’t respond to “how are you” with “busy.”
The word busy effectively shuts down any potential connection because it has the subtext of “I can’t talk to you, I have better things to do.”
2. Use your Name Tag Real Estate wisely.
Why stop at your name? Why not add your favorite band, your major, or your favorite superhero? These little touches create talking points that breed friendships.
3. Create a Compliments page for your school.
The momentum of these pages really celebrates each member of your community.
4. Do Free Hugs on Campus.
Even if students don’t go for the hug, they will at least wonder what’s going on. This gets them thinking about the culture of involvement that surrounds them. Either way, it’s tons of fun and everyone feels the love after participating. (There’s a nation wide event for this happening on November 3rd!)
It’s simple math, just take the number of your engaged students, and square it. That’s the impact that student leaders can have on the greater campus community.