Having a massive pool of minds, an ocean of organizations and unlimited urban opportunities can frighten incoming students. So much so, that after going through the motions of secondary education some students simply ignore those new experiences. Instead, they choose to hide in their dorm rooms, close the shades and open the computer until the sun sets over the western hills. However, rejecting new opportunities negates the purpose of going to college in the first place.
As the finite amount of time we each have in college becomes shorter, failing to take advantage of University opportunities is unacceptable and could directly affect our level of success in college and beyond.
As an incoming freshman, I feared — because I am introverted — I would fall into this trap of wasted time. I worried that although I wanted to join organizations, and be active outside of the classroom, I would be overcome with the dread of asking for applications and ultimately never join groups I desperately wanted to be in.
However, after speaking with a handful of students, I learned that this reluctance is not simply due to anxiety, but also due to a fear of fitting in.
“It’s not that I’m afraid to go out and meet new people,” psychology freshman Justin Little said. “It’s just that I don’t want to get myself into something that I don’t think will benefit me or the people around me. It’s a lack of self-confidence to make lasting connections worth holding on to.”
This anxiety does not have to stop us from putting ourselves out there. UT has over 1,100 student organizations on campus to explore. First-Year Interest Groups are another opportunity that can provide an accepting environment to study and bond.
“FIGs are designed to help freshmen smoothly transition into college by providing a safe space where they can meet other students in their majors,” said Emily Sun, a language pathology senior and FIG leader. “(They can) learn about campus resources that can help them adjust to college life.”
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of getting involved on campus is that it allows students to develop beneficial skills and traits that ensure success after college.
“(Joining groups) is the best way to not only become good at what you love, but the friends you make will be the ones you’ll be with forever,” KVRX programming director Josh Winik said. “Clubs and organizations also provide the opportunity to develop skills that are not always taught in class. All of these skills are necessary for students applying to jobs and internships.”
It can be difficult to adjust to the new lifestyles college presents. But long-lasting benefits are only reaped by those willing to search and work for them, and UT offers opportunities for all students, regardless of their levels of social comfort. Take advantage of this. Leave the dorm, join organizations and clubs, become involved with those who share similar passions and accept the unfamiliar.
Johnson is a journalism freshman from San Francisco, California.