The first weeks of college are filled with lots of decisions for most students: what courses to take, whether to join a fraternity, weighing the need to add to their Abercrombie & Fitch collection.
Sorting through, signing on - anyone who's been there knows that's as much of the college experience as living in a dorm. The weightiest issue in many cases may be whether there's still enough time left over to study. (Study? Oh. Right.)
But students also confront some tougher choices when it comes to negotiating an environment chock-full of groups eager to gain new members. Just check out our cover story.
Alongside the thespians and the student newspapers are other groups - ones that may appear to offer relief from common themes of isolation, homesickness, or exam pressures, but which demand increasing amounts of a student's time and money. They recruit with friendliness and enthusiasm. But their purposes are not always clear or worthwhile.
Colleges, sensitive to legal issues, have traditionally been cautious in alerting students to the presence of such groups. But some - prompted or aided by concerned parents and teachers -are making progress in encouraging students to look beyond the surface when it comes to joining a new enterprise.
It's not an issue much on parents' or children's minds as they pack the bags for college. But along with leaving notes to send care packages and parental pleas to find some part-time work, it's a matter worth discussing.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society