As UT’s newest class of freshmen settle into their dorms and classes, they are also beginning to get involved on campus. Many fill out applications for Student Government or spirit groups while simultaneously attending informational sessions for organizations they might find a home in. With an array of organization fairs such as Party on the Plaza, UT does a great job introducing freshmen to student organizations, internship opportunities and other extracurricular activities. These events give new students the opportunity to thrive but also leave room for new and unassuming students to ovecommit themselves.
Overcommitment is a side effect of the UT freshman experience — a result of freshmen trying to fit in by whatever means necessary. Roberto Soto III, a theatre and dance freshman, has already been cast in an Alpha Phi Omega play. Soto said the play requires 16 hours of rehearsal per week. Soto joined APO because he wanted to be more involved and “to put it on (an) acting résumé.”
Soto is right, involvement on UT’s campus can lead to social and professional opportunities in the long run. But before freshmen begin filling their Google Calendars with meetings or, in Roberto’s case, rehearsals, it’s important for them to listen to the wise words of our upperclassmen and avoid overcrowding their schedules.
Angela Kang, a biology junior, joined nine organizations during her first semester at UT. These organizations included Texas THON, Undergraduate Mentorship Agency, Camp Texas and Senate of College Councils. Kang said she would have six to seven meetings per week. At first Kang believed she was balancing academics and extracurriculars, but soon found herself becoming irritated and distracted. “I felt like I couldn’t prioritize my academics and often found myself using my outside commitments as distractions from doing my academic work,” Kang said. “I didn’t really know how to handle my mental health.”
Similarly, Alyssa Ashcraft, a Humanities and government junior, joined six organizations her first freshman year and interned at the Texas State Capitol. As a result of her hectic first year, she urges freshmen to focus on themselves and the few things they really love. “As a student commit yourself to a few organizations and build your community and your passions through them,” Ashcraft said.
By their sophomore year, both Ashcraft and Kang left several organizations to focus on a handful they truly enjoyed. Meanwhile, Soto firmly believes “reminders and planners” will help him balance his membership with Alpha Phi Omega and a 15-hour course load. “I’m just constantly checking on myself to be productive and proactive,” Soto said. The plague of overcommitment does not only extend to freshmen. Many students at UT commit to more extracurriculars and organizations than they have time for. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed there is no shame in withdrawing from an organization. Campus involvement is a great way to establish and better yourself but always remember that you are your first and foremost priority.
Torres is a Plan II, English & creative writing junior from San Antonio.