Oxford Stories: UM Student Said Getting Involved on Campus Helped Improve Her GPA

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An Ole Miss student involved in several extracurricular activities and organizations on campus agrees with studies that state campus involvement tends to improve grades and add structure.

Sara Doan, a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Little Rock, stays busy by participating in numerous campus organizations. These activities are Safe Ride Ole Miss, Rebelthon, Young Life, Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and the Ole Miss chapters of The Odyssey Online and Spoon University.

Being involved in so many activities requires a huge time commitment, but some students like Doan, meet the challenge with open arms.

“I was really involved in high school, and I love to stay busy all the time,” Doan said.

Each organization has its own specific purpose. Young Life is a Christian ministry program that ministers to college and high school students. Doan is a leader at Oxford High School.

“I was really involved in Young Life in high school, and I was president my senior year,” she said. “I knew [being a leader] was something I wanted to have a part in.

img_1452“My best friend my freshman year was like ‘You have to go through.’ I wanted to give back in some way, and that was the way. My Young Life leader in high school did so much for me growing up that I wanted to do something like that to give back.”

Safe Ride Ole Miss is a bus line that runs to and from the Square and Fraternity Row on the weekends. The purpose is to reduce drunk driving and DWIs by giving students a safer transportation option.

“Throughout the year, we hold fundraising events, talk to Greek houses and classes about our purpose,” Doan said. “It’s really to get people to not drink and drive and get people from behind the wheel.”

Spoon University is an online food blog that Doan writes an article for weekly. The Ole Miss chapter of this publication started last March, and Doan was one of the first members.

“We talk about food places in Oxford or show you where to go if you want to have a fun night,” she said. “We also do videos and recipes.”

img_1455Rebelthon is a 12-hour dance marathon that takes place yearly in collaboration with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the Ole Miss chapter supports Blair E. Batson Children’s Hosptial in Jackson.

“We are dancing and standing for the kids who can’t,” she said. “There are events throughout the year leading up to the big event on Feb. 17 and 18.”

The Odyssey Online is a social forum based on the community you’re in. Doan also writes a weekly article for this publication and said they are not limited to a specific topic.

Doan is also a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She said there are benefits to being so involved.

“I am a very big people person,” she said. “I just love meeting and talking to people. All the people I’ve met through these events, I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for being in these organizations.”

Doan has noticed that her involvement in extracurricular activities has improved her grades, like studies would suggest.

A United States Department of Education study by Rachel Johnson and Ryan Moulden revealed that students who participate in extracurricular activities are three times more likely to have a grade point average of a 3.0 or higher.

“This is higher than students who did not participate in extracurricular activities,” the study reads. “This is regardless of their previous background or achievement.”

“My first semester my freshman year, I wasn’t really involved in anything, and I would just sit in bed and watch TV,” Doan said. “That semester, my grades were really low. Once I got involved, my grades went up.”

When a student is involved, they must follow a strict schedule due to time commitments.

“I think it goes back to setting a schedule for yourself, and I have a set study schedule,” she said. “I like to go to bed at a decent time, and I know that if I don’t put those study hours in, I will be up all night doing homework. For some organizations, you have to have a certain GPA, and I think that makes me more driven to want to do better in school.”

Friends of Doan noticed an improvement in her studying habits as she became more involved.

Sammy Watkins said, “I’ve noticed a ton of structure with Sara recently. She seems to make good grades, even though it seems like she is involved in everything. I don’t know how she does it.”

Doan said most groups require a certain GPA to be an active member. This drives all students to study a little harder and make the grades they need to continue to be in the activities they love.

img_1403“I’m in a sorority too, and academic eligibility is a big thing,” Watkins said. “I know it drives me to do better in my classes. I found my grades increased after I joined a sorority. There’s so much we have to do, you have to make time to study if you want to go the events.

“I know Sara hasn’t gone to some of her sorority functions because it’s important to study. Setting a study schedule definitely keeps you focused helping you make better grades.”


By Julia Wickes. Read more stories like this on Oxford Stories.

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