By: Joe Urbano
Campus Sherpa Blog Contributor, RIT
College and high school are vastly different. There are more responsibilities, obstacles, and environments. But it’s also about starting fresh, and finding a place to fit in can really be a challenge. That being said, “finding your niche” and the people that come with it is one of the most rewarding parts of the college experience. Whether it’s one club you’re super involved in or many clubs that you’re a part of, don’t miss out on extracurricular activities. I’ve learned a thing or two, and hopefully you can find my experience a bit helpful.
The school I attend, RIT, is not exactly known for its thriving social scene. I followed my RA’s advice and left my door open year-round for anyone to come by and chat. Ultimately, that was unsuccessful. I made a couple friends on my floor, but they were all mechanical engineers and got swarmed with work immediately. I hadn’t met many of the kids in my own major just yet, for we didn’t experience the same “hit the ground running” start that the mechanical engineers did. I tried going out for ultimate frisbee but it wasn’t for me, and ski team didn’t meet until the winter. So, to keep it brief, first semester got a little boring. Now, I play on 3 intramural teams, am the treasurer of RIT’s Alpine Ski Team, and I am a member of the honors activities committee.
Though getting started in a new environment can be tough, there truly is no pressure in attending the first meeting of the activity. If you don’t like it, just don’t go again! Don’t sign up for their mailing list, they’re not going to get offended or upset. And if they do, you don’t have to talk to them again!
Though I said there’s no pressure in going to a club meeting for the first time, I know the irony in that statement. As someone that gets very socially anxious, it was very discouraging to not find clubs that I felt were right for me. I wanted to do drama but I don’t have the time. I didn’t like the kids who ran ultimate frisbee. The video game club was not the right fit either. But it’s important to not give up on searching. My first semester got incredibly boring because I didn’t have enough outside of school to do.
The most important thing about clubs in college versus clubs in high school is that no one cares what clubs you’re a part of. There aren’t the same social stigmas or cliques in college, in my experience (I think this is very true of larger schools, I can’t speak to those of small student bodies). I’ve played in a number of video game tournaments and then turned around and played intramural volleyball the day after. Your interests are your interests, and college is not the place to squander them because they aren’t “cool.”
Clubs and intramurals are also great opportunities to build your resume. Not only does it show your involvement with the community, it also shows a bit of your personality. It also comes in handy as a strong conversation topic while talking to potential employers for internships, co-ops, or jobs. Having something to reference outside of school that shows my other interests has been quite helpful in the interview process.
Clubs and intramurals aren’t all a campus has to offer, though! There are many other ways to get involved. You can study abroad, volunteer, go on alternative breaks, or get involved politically. The point is to find something outside of just schoolwork to do. No matter what it is, the potential to make new friends, have new experiences, or find new opportunities is not worth missing out on.