Buckeyes have hundreds of ways to get involved on and around campus. For some first-year students, that sounds like a welcome challenge, a chance to continue the heavy involvement they loved in high school. For others, it’s a terrifying sea of too many choices, with no way to nail down a perfect fit.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Pursuing my passions at Ohio State has taught me a few lessons in the past three years.
1. Involvement linked to your major is endlessly rewarding
After choosing journalism as my major, I began writing for The Lantern. That newspaper became my life for nearly three years. Through many semesters of long nights putting the paper together, I walked away with some of my closest college friends and invaluable professional experience.
Finding an organization related to what you’re studying, and what you ultimately think you want to do the rest of your life, is imperative. The experience is impressive to interviewers when you’re looking for jobs and internships.
The Lantern laid the groundwork for every internship I’ve had at Ohio State. While it is possible to land an internship without much experience in your field, these internships are competitive, and someone with experience sets you apart from someone with none.
Many majors have clubs connected to them somehow, and the networking opportunities alone are reason enough to join.
2. Primary passions can become hobbies
Coming into college, I was optimistic about keeping up with running after competing in cross country and track for six years. I thought I’d join running club and find other like-minded people to be running partners.
This didn’t happen, and that’s okay. Friendships, classes, and other involvement took up much of my free time, and running became a secondary hobby.
College is a wonderful time to learn more about yourself and what you want to devote the rest of your life to, and sometimes the things that were most important to you in high school fade away in this period of your life.
One piece of advice I’d give to hang on to important parts of yourself is to still make time for the things you love, the things you want to spend a lifetime enjoying, even if it’s just casually.
For me, I’ve found this through training for the Columbus Marathon. I’m training solo, but it gets me off the couch, into my shoes and onto the trails where I feel at home. Even if your past loves become a side hobby, there’s always room for what’s important to you; you just have to be creative.
3. Get outside your comfort zone
When some of my friends joined or showed interest in Greek Life, I rolled my eyes and cracked jokes. Looking back, I see now how wrong I was to pass judgment on something I didn’t understand.
I decided to go through formal sorority recruitment as a second-year student in the spring of 2013, and every day I’m thankful that I did. Greeks are social, involved, intelligent and bold. I’m a better person because of the strong women in my chapter.
My point is not to preach the benefits of joining a fraternity or sorority. While it has been a fantastic way for me to get to know so many incredible Buckeyes, it’s not for everyone.
Rather, my point is that if you’re curious about something, try it. The worst that can happen is you won’t like it and you can look for something else that fits your personality and lifestyle better.
But college is about taking risks that are really only available to you when you’re young. So attend an info session for the organization that stood out to you at the involvement fair. Apply for a service trip. Pick up a new sport or skill. You never know where getting a little uncomfortable can take you.
4. Getting involved changes everything
Many people choose Ohio State because they love the big-campus feel. The busyness of our sidewalks and class buildings, the wide range of opportunities—on paper those things are wonderful.
But in practice, at times the vastness can make Ohio State a bit lonely. The more organizations you join and people you meet, the smaller the university becomes.
In your first year, you will make tons of friends in your hall and maybe in your classes. Some might turn out to be the best friends of your college days and beyond, while you might part ways with others.
Those individuals you meet through campus involvement will tend to share your goals, priorities, passions and interests. Suddenly this great, vast university will feel even more like a community, and you’ll realize how closely we’re connected with one another.
Getting involved is such a beautiful thing at Ohio State because there truly is something for everyone, and the possibilities are limitless–you never know where you might find your new home.