University is an amazing time in your life. Even I, who had a heck of a rocky start, would never take back my university experience. My university career was made amazing by getting involved in stuff beyond academics. I was the kind of kid who never really fit in growing up, it probably had something to do with the fact that I read Star Wars books under my desk in grade 6 or dressed up like Jack Sparrow for Halloween in grade 7 (I’m a girl!) or didn’t want to drink in grade 9 to 12. There were probably a pile of other factors that went into why I never really felt like I fit in growing up, but those would just be a few on my list. The one thing I learned is that it is the things that make you different that make you feel like an outcast growing up, it really boils down to that other kids can really suck and aren’t always great at being accepting.
University is a game changer for a lot of people. It’s not that I can promise that the same drama and exclusionary nonsense won’t still happen, but it happened a lot less for me. There are way more people who will accept you and way more of your “peeps” will be around. You can easily join clubs and volunteer and find your niche. No one will care if you want to read Star Wars (even though by then I moved onto Harry Potter and such) because they’ll read it with you. No one will care if you don’t like to party much because you’ll likely end up with a group of friends, many of whom are also the “non-partier, lets do other stuff” types.
Let’s start with campus clubs
I can also include sororities and other campus-affiliated organizations, not including jobs.
When I joined the Harry Potter Alliance, this was basically the first time I had found my own special niche on campus where I felt like I really 100% fit in. I had my own little crowd of geeky, Harry Potter loving, social activists to spend time with and it was amazing.
I would strongly suggest getting involved with a club or two on campus (and make sure you attend events and meetings) because it is a great way to meet other students, get involved with something you are passionate about, and make lasting friendships and memories.
If you are an executive, or involved in a more-than-vague-way, you can easily add the club to your resume and it’ll be a way to demonstrate your involvement in university and describe the way you’ve learned/grown as a result.
And with regard to volunteering,
You should do it. It’s amazing to meet all the people, give back to your community, get involved off-campus, and build your resume. There is no bad reason to volunteer. A lot of the good feels from volunteering are also associated with campus clubs.
Go to gym glasses, join a sports club or other sports related things
I don’t think I need to reiterate how this is a good way to meet people, that much is pretty straight forward. Plus, exercise of so many kinds is a fabulous way to ward off stress, to destress, and to have a ton of fun. University can be wicked stressful, so even if the only thing you ever do is run like a greyhound (which is, for me, a less social activity, and even I have running friends, so you will likely acquire your own running friends) then it is a great way to reduce your stress.
Go to cooking classes, art classes and other non-athletics related hobby activities or events.
Again, very similar reasons here. I’m taking a sushi cooking class next month for example. I belong to a Harry Potter related book club (which is admittedly online, but I can have online friends too!). You can go and try these sorts of things out, and even if it is a one time thing, it is guaranteed to be fun. You can even go to events for clubs without being a member of the club. Like the Harry Potter Alliance chapter I was an executive for had a Yule Ball where 200-ish people bought tickets for, and piles of people came to that (it was a semi-formal) and not all of them belonged to the club. LGBT spaces, aboriginal centres and other such on-campus places tend to hold tons of events that are fun.
Networking events or other academic typed events
There is this doctor who worked for Doctors Without Borders at the time of the Rwandan genocide. He wrote a book about it, and a few years later he came to my university to speak. These are the kinds of events you want to flock too! They usually end up being interesting and informative. I got my book from this guy signed and I ended up sitting with one of the exam proctors who I have had occasionally chatted with before/after exams (super nice lady). Networking is also useful, you can ask you career centre about local things.
I hope that this will be useful to anyone who is new to university and still looking for ways to get involved at university. You’ll notice I left out partying and dorm-events, that’s mostly because partying isn’t that hard to come across in the same way that it isn’t that hard to see that there is something going on down the hall in your residence, it usually takes care of itself and doesn’t require so much looking to find. Not to mention, I am not a big partier, and when I went to parties it was usually because I met people through other means beforehand, so I think it kind of backs up that it just sort of “takes care of itself”.
Have a great year everyone!