Entering any new environment can be a daunting task for many to embark on, and for countless individuals starting off their first year of college, survival mode begins as soon as they move into their dorm room. Being surrounded by primarily new people from a variety of backgrounds coupled with the pressure of putting yourself out there to make friends is no doubt a stressor to many, but it is a doable venture if one approaches it properly. From looking into what your campus has to offer to making your presence known where it should be, here are some of the ways in which you can ensure that you socially survive your freshman year of college.
Check Out Clubs
One of the best ways to get to meet new people and to find those that best mesh with your personality is to look into joining clubs that best suit your interests. GobblerFest is a once-a-semester event put on by the university where just about every campus organization comes out to showcase who they are and what they do. If you’re unable to attend GobblerFest, GobblerConnect, a website that highlights many of Tech’s events and organizations, is a great place to check out if you’re interested in adding some extracurricular involvements to your schedule.
I can honestly say that one of my biggest regrets during my freshman & sophomore years at VT was not diversifying and expanding upon my extracurricular involvements. It wasn’t until my junior year that I started to branch out where I should have been involving myself, and at that point I felt as if I had waited too long. The earlier you start getting involved in activities/organizations that interest you, the better. Don’t feel pressured to rush into anything; it’s easy to lose sight of what you really want to get out of your time here in college when you compare yourself to what your peers are doing. Take the time to do a bit of researching and getting to know about any involvement before you commit yourself, but don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
Odds are you’ve heard of Greek life, oftentimes referred to as “fraternity and sorority life” at some point in your academic life. Many people tend to form opinions about this unique area of extracurricular involvement without truly getting to know the organizations and the people within them. Regardless of what you may have heard or assumed about Greek life, it is one of the larger offerings that just about every college campus has, with hundreds of thousands of college students across the country actively participating in. Thinking of joining? The best way to go about the process is to get to know the organizations, and have their members get to know you during the recruitment period, commonly known as “rush”. Check out the rush schedules on the organizations’ social media accounts, and look into which organizations are offered at your school.
Prior to coming to college, I had no interest in Greek life whatsoever, and I definitely didn’t want to join a fraternity. I had seen all the news reports and heard stories about fraternities, all of which made the whole system sound unappealing and not worth the time to me. For the first few years of college, I got by fine, I was going to parties and enjoying time with friends, but I felt that I could get more out of my time as an undergraduate by expanding my horizons. I eventually found a group of guys that I felt had similar interests with what I’m into, and I joined a fraternity. It opened doors for me socially and academically; I’ve been paired up with brothers that have been able to help me seek out internships, take on leadership roles, and various other activities that have helped me grow as a college student. Even if you don’t believe Greek life is your cup of tea, at least give it a chance by looking into it.
Get To Know The People In Your Hall & Classes
If you find yourself living in a residence hall your freshman year, don’t wait on the opportunity to get to know those who live around you. A timeless, almost guaranteed way to make long-term friendships in college is to branch out to those who live in your dorm hallway; the earlier the better. Additionally, the same rules go for your classes as well. Whether you have a class in-person or virtually, take the time to get to know the people in it with you. Beyond getting to know who they are, establish a connection with them beyond just knowing their name. Doing so could lead to opportunities down the road, such as making new friends and/or networking perks.
One of the things I did during my freshman year that has benefited me long-term was taking the time to get to know those who were in my hall. Many of the people I’ve kept in close contact with over the years have been those who I got to know during the first few months of my time in college, and having talked to other people outside of my friend group, I’ve heard many similar stories. Don’t delay on getting to know people when you go off to college, but don’t feel left out if you don’t find your crowd right away.
Get Involved in Campus Activities
Wanting to be active in your university’s extracurricular offerings, but without the commitment/cost of typical options? Perhaps looking into helping out with campus activities would best suit your interests. It’s common for universities to have events and organizations that are of moderate to low commitment to be a part of, such as helping out with the school wellness center, yearbook committee, or running social media accounts. Committing to roles within campus organizations can be difficult when trying to balance academics and other involvements on top, but that doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself. Often there are ways you can be involved in campus activities short-term, without the need of fulfilling a continuous role within the host organization.
Reflecting on how I approached adding extracurricular activities to my already overwhelmed schedule during my first few years of college, I realize now that I was too apprehensive at spreading myself thin. While overextending yourself in any situation tends to be detrimental to your performance abilities, making an effort to test your boundaries and see what is/isn’t doable within your schedule can’t hurt in the short term. Additionally, seeking out ways to be involved in extracurriculars that work within the confines of your day to day life will surely help you find what is best for you.
Freshman year of all years that one spends in college is truly what you make of it. There may be some, “barriers” to living out that amazing college experience that you dreamt about back in high school, or perhaps you don’t find yourself to be the social butterfly that’s able to make friends right away. Regardless, the time to be putting in the legwork to ensure that the remainder of your undergrad years are enjoyable is now.