Tips and tricks for getting involved as a freshman

Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

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Freshman year can be difficult. It’s full of adjustments of all types. One day your life is one way, and the next practically everything is different. As a freshman, I had never thought these adjustments would be as overwhelming as they were.

Going off to college can be so exciting. There are so many opportunities, people, and things waiting for everyone who steps on campus, especially here at UNC Wilmington. Everyone is pumped full of information at orientation about college responsibilities, dorm life, academic integrity, and student involvement.

The lessons taught about involvement at orientation stuck with me stuck when I was a freshman. I remember one presentation outlining that students should spend something like 15 hours per week on their extracurriculars. They spoke of the numerous clubs, events and opportunities to get involved with on campus to help achieve this goal.

It’s all so exciting when its a few months away. Thinking of what organizations to participate in, which intramural team to join, how busy you’ll be and how much fun you’ll have.

However, that excitement can be overshadowed by intimidation because of just how new everything is. It can be hard to think about getting involved on campus when you’re just trying to learn your way around and prepare for the next four years.

While it can be overwhelming, putting yourself out there and getting involved is a crucial step in creating the best life possible here at The Dub. Becoming involved on campus and taking advantage of the opportunities around me was one of the best things I could’ve done. So, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks for those looking to get involved and make the most of their time here.

  1. Don’t let your fears get the best of you. I’ve put this first because it’s truly the most important to remember. Starting anything new is scary, and a lot of the time it’s easiest to avoid a new challenge for that reason. However, it’s necessary to push through these feelings because they could hold you back from some incredible opportunities. Take the fresh start that comes with being a college freshman and use it for good. Push through your fears and take advantage of the opportunities around you.
  2. Be nice, reach out. Meeting so many new people can be overwhelming. Names, faces, and fun facts can be hard to remember. Introducing yourself can feel forced and awkward. However, it’s important to remember that everyone else probably feels the same. Try reaching out to the people around you and see where it takes you. Ultimately, it will benefit everyone, yourself included.
  3. Participate in ice breakers and games. In all honesty, I rolled my eyes at a lot of the ice breakers and name games we were forced to do in my dorms and classes freshman year. They can be painful. However, it’s a great way to bond over the awkwardness of such forced conversation with the people around you. Rather than doing the ice breakers and games just to get them over with, try to have fun and go the extra mile with the people you meet. These are great opportunities to be surrounded by people just like you, newcomers and freshman.
  4. Take the involvement fair seriously. I remember there being so much build up to the involvement fair my freshman year. They talked about it a lot at orientation and again in UNI 101. It may seem like just another event, but it’s actually really helpful and is filled with opportunities. Think about the types of clubs you’re interested in, and don’t be afraid to spend some extra time in the August heat just to make sure you’ve seen it all. Chat with the people representing their clubs. Ask the questions you want to ask. This only happens so often and is a key way to get involved.
  5. Join class Facebook pages. Most people already know about this one from trying to find a roommate or buying used textbooks. Staying as a part of these groups is a good way to keep up with things on campus. People will post information about different clubs, events, and opportunities on campus. This is how my friend found out about The Seahawk, and she went on to have a column and gain a student media awards nomination later that year. You never know where it will take you! Worst case scenario you find some more used textbooks.
  6. Know your neighbors. All freshman on campus living is a blessing and a curse. While it can be intense or unsanitary, it’s also a great way to meet people. This is basically the only time in college when you are surrounded by people who are just like you: newbies. Try leaving your dorm room door propped open and see what happens. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. I met one of my closest friends here because she walked into my room and started a conversation. Also, the convenience factor of having friends in the same hall or building as you is through the roof.
  7. Don’t be afraid to say yes. I really can’t stress how important it is to push through your fears and try new things. Go to an interest meeting. Sit with strangers in Wag. Go with people from your dorm to scope out where your classes are. Take a chance. Do something new. Say yes to the new opportunities around you.
  8. Don’t be afraid to say no. Freshman year is all about putting yourself out there and trying new things. However, everyone has a limit. Try not to feel like you have to say yes to the things you actually don’t want to do. Whether that’s going out one night or joining an on campus club, don’t get involved with something you don’t want to be a part of. Your time and energy can be better spent on something you do.
  9. Do your best. Cue the eye roll, I know. But it’s true! Trying your best to make friends, getting involved, and doing well will only benefit you in the long term. People will notice and your hard work will pay off. A professor last semester went out of her way to tell me about an involvement opportunity because she thought I’d be interested in it. Opportunities are always presenting themselves and becoming available, and the people who benefit from them are usually working hard.
  10. Enjoy yourself. While all of the new people, places, things and obligations are a lot to handle while getting involved your freshman year, there is one very important factor to remember. Have fun! Enjoy yourself. This is the experience of a lifetime. It can be so daunting trying to find close friends and inspiring extracurriculars, but everything truly works itself out. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now, and no one expects you to.