College is a center of culture and new ideas. Probably the biggest single thing to make you feel connected to your college or university is to get involved in extracurricular work and build friendships. Remember that you are going to be in college for only a short time. Try to take advantage of as many things as possible, both academic and extracurricular. Research shows that students who get involved are more likely to succeed academically and earn a degree. Getting involved is important for any student, whether resident or commuter. Granted, the commuter, part-time, or working student may not have as much time to participate, but there should be enough things available to entice that student population to be a part of, and feel engaged in, the school community.
How do I get involved?
Your college years are a time when you can try out many different areas of interest, much more so than in high school. And not just academics. That’s where clubs and special activities come in. Some schools have hundreds of clubs, and if they don’t have what you want, you can almost always start one. Talk to the administration. Usually it just takes someone willing to set up a meeting time and place. There are clubs, Greek organizations (fraternities or sororities may be social, philanthropic and/or academic), student government, religious groups, newspaper, political groups, radio or TV station, student life recreation activities, band, choir, bike-riding, special-interest groups, special events on campus, campus-sponsored off-campus projects and activities, film festivals, intramural sports, concerts and symposiums.
But how to find them? At new-student orientation, there will probably be an event where several of the larger on-campus groups have booths advertising their activities. Go to the Student Life Office for a list of all official groups on the campus and get a copy of the Student Activities Book. Ask about Habitat for Humanity or other volunteer groups. Check the bulletin boards in all buildings. That might be the only place to find out about the weekly astronomy night watch. Check out the fitness-center equipment. Stop in at the Career Center to see about on- or off-campus part-time jobs. Ask your RA for advice, and ask other students who are doing something you find interesting. Go to a meeting and see if this is an activity for you. Ask questions such as meeting frequency, the cost, the amount of involvement expected, if attendance is mandatory, and if a faculty member is involved or if the group is student-run.
Where can you fit in, learn, relax, contribute your skills, hang out, or just plain have fun? Try these ideas.
* Visit the Student Life Office and read the Student Activities Book to find out about special activities, projects, intramural teams, volunteer groups, organizations, and clubs.
* Ask the Student Life Office for lists of religious organizations on campus and off. Many of the houses of worship are particularly welcoming to college students and always have volunteer opportunities.
* Read the bulletin boards in all buildings.
* Read your campus e-mail alerting you to events and groups.
* Visit groups’ booths at the college information fair for discussion and brochures.
* Get a fitness-center schedule.
* Ask experienced students for advice and information.
* Call, sign up, or attend an organization’s meetings.
* Start a new club. If you learned to knit over the summer and want to meet occasionally with other knitters, decide in advance how often and where you want to meet, the degree of formality desired, the level of experience of participants, and whether or not you will include teaching. Ask the Student Life Office about procedures and advertising.