Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to adjust to a big university

Note: The message below is from an e-mail exchange. Name has been changed for anonymity, and e-mail is shared with permission from the sender.

Dear Isa,

I am having a difficult time adjusting to the large crowd at the University of Texas (I transferred there recently from community college). I sometimes feel overwhelmed - I never thought this would happen to me because I am very outgoing. Do you have any advice on how not to get lost in the numbers at a big college? I don't want to lose my determination and motivation.

I feel very discouraged sometimes because I don't have my usual friends, professors, and community leaders who I usually reached out to.

Thank you so much for any help Isa!

Hi Jessica, 

This is such a great question. Here are some things you can do right now that I hope help:

1) Look on your college's website or go to the offices necessary to set up a meeting with a career counselor and a student life coordinator right away. Ask the career counselor about internships, and ask the student life coordinator about clubs. Then get going!

2) Look at all the clubs on your college's website and contact the top three clubs that interest you. Go to the meetings, introduce yourself to the president, and ask to get involved in the one that interests you the most. If possible try to get an officer position as soon as possible.

3) Keep asking for advice. I transferred to a small private school so I don't know what it's like to go to a big school. But I do know it was hard to adjust even at a small school so I imagine it's hard not to feel lost in a big crowd. 

Even with the small school it was vital I made my experience smaller by getting involved right away. (I joined the dance team and became an orientation leader.) I also found it helpful to meet with all of my professors during office hours to ask their advice and build mentorship relationships with the ones I clicked with. 

Stepping outside your comfort zone to get involved right away is the best thing you can do to begin to make the big experience a little bit smaller. Sometimes it may feel odd, and you won't always click with everyone - but putting yourself out there will pay off. 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions and let me know how it goes! Good luck!!



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