From hiding in the back to being front and center
Getting involved in your university community and the people around you will only add to your experience
Attending university can be different straight off the hop depending on the type of person you are and how involved with your faculty you want to be. This is coming from a person who was hiding in the background of class, tucked into their notes, and since the pandemic is now a student that has switched faculties, is a part of a student society, the student newspaper, and is involved more in the community. So yes, getting involved with other students and your professors can help you out personally in so many ways.
First off, do not be terrified to approach your professors! They are people too and seem to be willing to help a face over a student ID number. When you are in a class with over 150 students, is the prof going to know who you are? Most likely not. So, it is up to you to go up to that professor, to just even say hello and ask for clarifications about the expectations or course material. Why? For one it will show that you care, you are curious about the course and what is required of you, and that you are not scared of them. Once you have said the initial hello, the rest is pretty easy moving forward. Saying that hello can help you ask questions about the information that you may have missed, and it can help you get more background history on why you did so well or so poorly on an assignment that you were expecting the opposite of. It can help you gain insight to what your career is going to be like and so much more. Remember, you are here to get an education for your future career. Your professors will more than likely have stories or information to give insight on what your career is going to be like.
Professors are a big part of university, obviously. What else is big? The number of students. This may seem scary, but what benefits do you get from going up to a student in a class? Now, you have someone to talk to about the class content. When you actively talk about what you are learning and aren’t just stating the facts in your paper, it can help train your brain better to know the information. It is also a great way to get notes from someone if you miss class for some out-of-the-ordinary reason. Because really, who answers those mass emails of “I missed class help me?” Speaking from a personal perspective, I am more willing to give my class notes to someone I have talked to a couple of times over a stranger. Best case scenario, you may also end up making a friend, and who does not like friends?
Next opportunity on how to get involved is in your faculty’s student society. What is your student society? First off, it is a society not a sorority. This is not like what you see in the movies where they sing clap along songs and live in a very small house. A society is a group of students that get together to help other students, for events, or to provide other opportunities. There are two options normally for getting involved: one is an executive team where they are in charge of planning events, fundraising, and representing the students; the other option is as a regular student-at-large. These are students that go to events when they want and help provide input on what they would like to see in the future. These events can be in-person or virtual with how things are going right now. Some events that are happening on campus that you may see coming up this year are a drag show, student lounge events, peer-to-peer mentorship, art events, welcome week, and more! These events can help you get out of your dorm to go with your roommates to get to know one another, or out of your house away from your siblings to go meet new people.
University can be scary, but it does not all have to be. If you have the chance to go and talk to someone in person this year, go and do it! If you have everything online and are debating on saying hello, at least you can hide your scared jittery face behind a computer while you do it! Make the most out of your university experience while you can – trust me, it will be worth it. Remember, I went from hiding in the back to now being a part of my society and so far, I am loving my degree and career so much more.