Congrats on surviving the college process and deciding to come to Binghamton University; it’s not easy and you deserve a second to take in all your hard work. I’m here to pass on a little advice, and while I’m only a year ahead of you, perhaps I can save you a little bit of work in the long road of getting adjusted to college.
While it’s true that if you had a dollar for every time someone tells you to “get involved and join lots of clubs,” you’d be able to pay off your student loans in about six months, the fact remains that this is actually pretty good advice. To elaborate, first make sure to try out a mix of clubs that you know you’ll love and ones that you aren’t entirely sure about. I looked into a lot of groups after the club fair and eventually found what was a good fit for me.
Second, don’t be intimidated by auditions or applications. Yes, auditioning for an a capella group or submitting work in order to get into an organization is utterly terrifying, but don’t let that hold you back. And just because you don’t get in at first doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel right away. For instance, I didn’t get into Pipe Dream, the very newspaper through which I’m giving you this advice, on my first try. I got in when I tried again second semester.
Lastly, don’t overload right off the bat. While getting involved is great, you do still have to be able to handle your coursework. Time management is harder in college, so take it slow at first — especially during your first semester. This includes your level of personal responsibility within the groups you join as well. So yes, you will find your niche, and yes, it might take some time, but I promise, if you make one or two good friends throughout your search, you’re doing a good job.
Another fun, less-mentioned tip I’d like to give you all is in regard to your dorm room. Dorming is awesome, and really is a highlight of being in college. Again, I’d like to make a few sub-claims. First of all, don’t be afraid to go all out and make your room your own. This really is your home away from home, so the more comfortable you feel here, the better. Second, while your room is where you might spend a lot of your time, be sure to get out of it now and again, even just to study and do work. I was in a super-occupied suite in Mountainview College, meaning there were seven of us living in a suite meant for six. While I loved all my suitemates, I didn’t realize how hard it would be without a desk. While it might be tempting to do everything in your bed — as I did — for the comfort factor alone, studying in bed is really ineffective and you won’t retain much. Make sure you get out of your room for social reasons as well. It’s perfectly fine if the party scene isn’t your thing, but don’t spend every weekend in your room on your laptop.
So there you are, just a few thoughts from me to make your life a little easier. Make some friends, join some groups and enjoy your time here. You’re gonna make some really awesome memories at BU, but you have to actually get out to create them! The great thing about college is that you have so much freedom to do whatever you want and make friends with whomever you want. It’s better to look back on the things you did than the things you didn’t do. Looking back, I wish I had put more energy into developing myself and my friend group during my first semester. But like me, you still have plenty of time to have fun. Kick back, enjoy the rest of your summer and maybe I’ll see you this fall.
Elizabeth Short is a sophomore majoring in biology.