The Hidden Costs of Student Organizations
College is the perfect time to join up with something new. So many clubs, teams and organizations to choose from! But beware. Even free student organizations could have hidden fees just waiting to empty your wallet, and you might never guess how.
Hidden Costs of Student Organizations
Before checking into a club or team, you might want to check into your bank account to see if you can afford it. Now, this article is not meant to dissuade you from getting involved on campus and becoming a part of student organizations. Joining a team or club is a great way to make new friends and can even be something you'll put on a resume. You just need to be aware of what you're getting into and be prepared to budget a little extra money for unexpected organization dues.
Uniforms and Shirts
Most student organizations like to look like a group or unit. One of the most common ways they do this is by all wearing similar or even the same clothes. You may be asked to chip in money to pay for a shirt in your size or with your name on it so you can be one of the group officially. This is especially true with sports teams that will likely charge you for a uniform and equipment. In particular, if it's not a school-sponsored team, then you and your fellow members will be fronting all the costs for custom clothing and gear.
Even though donations tend not to be mandatory, there is a sort of retribution for not donating. Clubs like it when their members show enthusiasm and care for the group, and giving money is one of the ways people do that. If you consistently do not donate or chip in for parties and food, you might start to be seen as a mooch or someone who doesn't care about the group. In very extreme cases, some groups might even ask you to leave unless you can start to help out financially.
Unlike donations, teams often expect a mandatory flat fee from all participants. There are league fees that the team has to pay, entry fees for competitions and space rental as well. Because of that, you are not just requested to pay, it is an absolute must. The fees might be small or they might be upwards of a hundred dollars, so be aware of how much they will expect you to pay before you decide if you're going to join or not.
The point of fundraisers is to earn money for the group, but the old adage is true that it costs money to make money. For a bake sale, you have to buy ingredients so you can make things to sell. For a craft sale, you need to buy supplies so you can create the crafts themselves. And you, as a member, might be expected to shell out for some of the start up costs. Even though you'll be earning back all the money you used to get the fundraiser ready, hopefully, the money doesn't go into your pocket. It goes to the group, so you personally might be left in the red.
One of the most fun things about student organizations is the places you'll go together to celebrate or compete. Sports teams have to travel if they go to some sort of championship or big tournament. After a year well done, a group might want to take a trip to Disneyland to celebrate. However, there is rarely enough in the group budget to pay for individual transportation fees. You will likely have to pay for your own ticket if you want to go. With teams in particular, plane tickets might be in your foreseeable future.
Even though it's not money, the time you spend is still valuable. Joining too many organizations means less time with friends, less time spent on homework and even less time sleeping. Certain organizations might take away your weekends or afternoons, making it impossible to get a part-time job or kick back during non-class time. Sometimes this sacrifice is worth it if you find a group that is fun and full of your friends anyway, but consider the time commitment before you sign up.
Wondering if renting a textbook is a fee that's not worth it? Figure out whether it's better to rent or buy!