ILLUSTRATION BY PRESTON RANDALL
I walked back to my dorm halfway through Blastoff, with an armload of free shirts, flyers, pens and more. I signed up for one too many email lists and met student leaders whose names I’ll never remember. After freeing my arms for more handouts, I dove right back in and went to all the other tables. When I finally came home that night, I added to the growing pile on my desk: flyers to sort through later.
Later ended up being a few days. I hesitated, but I recycled most of the flyers. As much as I can’t say no to free shirts, it’s even harder for me to say no to opportunities. I’ve always been the kind of person to get excited and get involved right away, which sounds like the perfect strategy for an incoming freshman. However, I can’t do it all.
I found my first challenge to tackle in freshman year — balance. Get involved but not with too much.
My roommate and I approached joining student organizations in two different ways. As a journalism major, I chose to be a part of three student media organizations. She chose to categorize her clubs: one for her major, one for exercise and one for dogs. We decided what we wanted to prioritize and joined clubs based on those interests.
Before I even reached Kent State, I sat down to look at the list of student organizations online, which was much easier to navigate than Blastoff. The wide variety of options tempted me. At first I wanted to join at least 10 organizations, including a club for glass blowing. I clearly needed guidance.
For more advice, I turned to Kristin Williams, associate director for the Center for Student Involvement. Williams’ office works with the Flash Activities Board and more than 350 student organizations to ensure students are involved with the campus community. “Our goal is to create that sense of belonging for students on campus,” Williams says, which is particularly helpful for those of us transitioning to college life for the first time. This year, along with freshmen, many sophomores are new to the in-person experience of Kent State.
“Narrow down what groups are interesting to you.”
Blastoff was overwhelming, sidewalks overflowing with people and tables. Now that classes are in full swing and life is settling into a routine, Williams suggests taking a look at KSU Engage, the online portal for student organizations.
“Reach out to them, find out when they’re meeting, attend a meeting by yourself.”
Williams related these first steps to “hurdles” we each must get over. Although joining something new might be intimidating at first, it’s the best way to connect and make friends. Personally, I found my lifelong best friend through a leadership group in high school. I look forward to creating a larger network in college.
“Figure out the level of commitment.”
Whether you want to join everything under the sun or you have a heavy class schedule, we all need to limit how much we join. Williams suggests trying out the groups you are initially interested in, then choosing what you have time for. Make your organizations fit your class schedule, not the other way around.
Armed with this advice, I’m learning to set priorities and find what works for me. During high school, I took part in eight clubs. I could never remember all of them and needed to count them off on my fingers. Always in the process of learning from my mistakes, I now want to choose fewer organizations that mean more to my future.
This year, I plan on challenging myself to set attainable goals and reach them step-by-step. The first step this semester: recycle the rest of my Blastoff flyers. Next, my aim is to choose student organizations that fit my passions and schedule.
SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA
Hi, I’m Holly Liptak, a senior journalism student from Akron and the editor-in-chief of The Burr this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.