By Zulie Mendoza

Zulie Mendoza is Student Services manager in Saint Leo's Center for Online Learning (COL). In this guest blog post, she describes students' growing interest in COL's online clubs and associations and the benefits of getting involved.

"I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!"

No, we're not singing the Pointer Sisters 1982 hit (and yes, it wouldn't be me, Zulie Mendoza, writing this if I didn't include a dated song or movie quote).

Nevertheless, it's true! COL's new online associations and clubs are generating tons of enthusiasm!

And not just by students. But by members of the online Student Services Department and club and association facilitators – all of whom are esteemed faculty or experienced online learning professionals.

As we have launched each new club or association, we have had a wonderful turnout of interested students and hope the fervor continues to flourish with our growth.

Thus far, we have launched three program-specific associations involving more than 200 COL student members.

  • Criminal Justice Association: co-facilitated by Dr. Angela Manos-Sittnick and Dr. Phillip Neely

  • Psychology Association: co-facilitated by Dr. Shannon Farris & Dr. Tammy Zacchilli

  • Business Association: co- facilitated by Dr. Ronda Mariani and Student Advisor Kari Sagehorn

  • Student Peer Mentor Club: facilitated by COL staff who have all taken online courses themselves: Enrollment Counselor Kheya Ganguly-Kiefner, and Student Advisors Kari Sagehorn and Emilio Favale

Student officers help run meetings twice a month for each organization. Meetings take place in the evening and usually last about 45 minutes. Meeting topics are based on students' suggestions and cover a wide range of program-specific, career and academic issues.

Why students join

Saint Leo students give a variety of reasons why they join our clubs and associations.

All, of course, see it as a way to be more connected to the university, to faculty, and to other students. And as busy, working adults, they also see the professional networking benefit.

Take Savannah Kentzell, for example.

When asked why she wanted to join the SLU online Business Association, Savannah Kentzell, a human resource management major from Yulee, Fla. said she wanted to become more engaged with her degree program. She sees it as an opportunity to communicate with other students who are seeking the same goal and may be going through – or have completed – the same courses as her.

In her application to join the association, Savannah wrote:

"Online schooling can make it difficult to interact with others, but I believe being a part of an online club will make it easier and far more enjoyable… I will have the option to seek advice from people who have the same aspirations that I do. Also, I can use it to better myself by giving some of my time to an online community, other than classwork."

Why you should join

Online students desire – and need – extracurricular activities. Clubs and associations provide additional support and opportunities for students to learn more about program-related topics in a fun environment, while interacting with fellow students and staff outside of the classroom.

In fact, studies have even shown that partaking in extracurricular activities can help academic performance, communication skills, and overall satisfaction with a student's collegiate experience.

We felt just because a student is online shouldn't mean that they miss out on these great benefits!

Interested in joining a club or association? Fill out a membership application or e-mail the Student Services Department. Stay informed about what's happening with COL clubs and associations through Facebook. Friend the Center for Online Learning to join the Facebook page for each club.

Zulie Mendoza is proud to be a 15-year veteran of the education industry where she has worked with students from ages 2 to 82. During this time, she has managed all aspects of career and student services. Passionate about the arts, Zulie has performed in numerous off-Broadway plays and loves creating a student-oriented environment in a creative and innovative manner.

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

Online Degree Programs | Popular Pathway To College

Online Degree Programs | Find The Right Fit For You

Online Degree Programs | What Students Look For

Image Credit: Sean Dreilinger