For some students, when they first arrive on campus, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the number of activities and organizations available that they decide it is best to avoid getting involved, at least for the first semester.
That is exactly what went through my mind the moment I stepped on campus for orientation this past April. I was entering college with an undecided major, unsure of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. Being undeclared showed me that I was not certain of what my interests and skills are. I am also an introvert, which caused me to shrink further away from campus involvement.
People around me constantly said things like, “Don’t worry, you’ll make friends,” and “You should get involved. You would meet more people.” Comments such as these felt like pressure to put myself out there as soon as possible. That pressure led to stress, which took away any excitement I had going into college. Due to these reasons, I do not believe it should be a requirement for college students to join a campus organization.
I am constantly wondering if any students can relate to this, but I know there are countless introverted students all around campus. I believe students should be able to set their own pace when it comes to discovering themselves and their interests.
In no way do I think negatively about getting involved. I would never want to discourage it. I simply believe making it a requirement would be too forceful and would only minimize excitement and wholehearted participation.
I understand that many students, faculty and staff strongly encourage students to find their niche on campus. However, for certain students that very niche may just be spending time on their own or with a few friends from classes. Simply put, campus activities, clubs, organizations and sports are not meant for everyone.
I did not see myself joining any sort of organization on campus, especially in my first semester. One day, a friend invited me to attend a Catholic Student Association meeting with her. I was hesitant, but I went. I ended up enjoying the meeting and now I try to attend CSA on Wednesday nights whenever I can.
During the Prepare for Success Seminar I attended at the beginning of this semester, I picked up a copy of The Lion’s Roar magazine at the Office of Student Publications. As I was flipping through the issue in my dorm later, on the second to last page was a small advertisement declaring that Student Publications was ‘Now Hiring!’ I had been putting off job searching because I thought I would never find one that suited me, that I would end up hating wherever I worked, but I saw the Publications ad and could not unsee it. I have always had an interest in journalism and photography, so I recognized this as an opportunity I should not pass up.
I am now one of many staff reporters for The Lion’s Roar newspaper, who all took a chance on the same opportunity that I did. Student Publications and CSA are two organizations I chose to join, and I am grateful that I had that choice. I believe that all students should have that choice as well.
I could not see much good coming from making a compulsion for students to join a campus organization. Many students may prefer not to join any simply because there is not an organization on campus that appeals to their skills and interests. However, once they find their area of interest, they will join an organization themselves, just like I did. I believe forced campus involvement would increase campus-wide stress. There is a certain reassurance in the independence that comes with the ability to choose how involved or uninvolved you want to be. Students must have the freedom to discover their own opportunities and be able to set their own pace for doing so.