Getting Involved on Campus
As a transfer student, I know the feeling. You walk on to campus that first time and it is more than a bit overwhelming. How in the hell are you going to navigate this crazy new land filled with intimidating professors, indifferent classmates, and glowering buildings overhead? Maybe you don't feel overwhelmed but getting started is a mystery still yet to be solved. Here's how in one semester I went from a confused transfer sophomore to a club's Outreach Coordinator, Student Manager of a campus store, a college chorus member, designer for the highly competitive Design U group on campus, and part of a growing network of student-overachievers.
1. Go to the Activity Fairs. Walk around and focus on making sure you look excited and approachable. This means groups are going to be far more likely to introduce themselves and give you their spiel. Sign up for the email list of anything thing that seems interesting. If you are hesitant about a group, take a picture of their information for reference for later. As you're walking around, be sure to note the meeting times of groups, pay attention to groups that work with your schedule to ensure you can get involved this semester instead of pushing things off. Lastly, be open minding with the groups you talk to. I would have never guessed the impact some groups would make on my time at Uni, be open to new experiences whenever possible.
2. Read your emails. Now that you've been put on the email lists for your interest groups, make sure you are actually reading them. Lots of times there are special events that are only advertised through these emails. This is how I've found out about a practice suture clinic, a free guest lecture from Jane Goodall that was filled in hours, a women's conference that paid for my travel to Baltimore, MA, and loads of lectures with free food. Take note: this includes the general emails from your college. College updates are always filled with info for students; from resource guides to great, free events.
3. Take note of posters around campus. Each lecture hall, laboratory hotspot, and study room on my campus is not complete without a big corkboard on (at least) one wall. These are often absolutely full of posters advertising unique clubs, free events on campus, and any other opportunity to get involved that you could imagine. I have a folder on my phone devoted to photos of these that I reference when I sort out each week in my Passion Planner. It is so easy to walk past these each day without a second thought but simply taking those extra seconds could make all the difference.
4. Spend time thinking about electives. Since starting classes up here in the fall, I have taken electives in history, choir, German, and more. Each of these courses has allowed me to learn more about the related extracurriculars, get to know new professors, and meet people across all campus divides. I highly recommend really thinking hard about which courses you could take to get involved with various groups. I loved taking a few history courses cause now I get the inside scoop on lectures and scholarships on top of it being a course I really loved. Plus, it was far easier to get updates through my instructors than spending hours finding things online.
5. Follow on Social Media. Almost every school, club, and business around these days have a whole barage of social media pages; be sure to use that to your advantage. Facebook groups send out reminders about events you may have never heard about, I've seen businesses post jobs on their Instagrams, and Twitter can be a route of keeping up with the clubs you're interested it. This is especially helpful if you turn on notifications for the clubs you're most interested in so you never miss a post.
6. Ask around. I constantly ask professors about which groups they recommend getting involved in or if they have any recommendations for conferences, etc. Same goes for classmates, especially if they are in the same major as you! Work to create a network of people that send invites and reminders to each other - be it through a Group.me, Facebook chat, or email thread. Anything that works for you.
7. Keep a planner. Schedule group meetings the same way you would any other obligations. This is my last, but potentially most important suggestion. You can make all the hopes and plans in the world but if you don't have an execution plan, it will never happen. The execution plan here is a cohesive way of knowing when and where you need to be for each event. As I have a colorized planner, I stick with a single color for all my clubs and make sure each thing I need to get to has all the information it needs.
So be off, and get involved in your campus! It will make your college experience the fascinating, inspiring, and welcoming place you always hoped it would be.