Big School, Small Community

One of the most intimidating parts of attending a large school like Arizona State, especially as an out-of-state student, is just how large it is . I came from a high school where my graduating class was 144 students and I could name almost everybody, as well as recognize them in the hallways. My largest class had never been more than about 28 students and our school pep rallies, featuring all 600 students, were a fairly large crowd to me. Yet when I came to ASU, my smallest class was maybe 30 people, and my largest was easily over 400 students. The teacher had to use a microphone to be heard. To say that I was unprepared would have been an understatement.

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I was terrified to find that I could walk across campus and not see a single soul that I knew; going into class was scary because if you got there too late all the ‘good’ seats would be taken, and I was fairly certain that no teacher would ever remember who I was. I did not have a clue how to form a community and find my own space on such a large campus. Luckily, I have never been good at having free time so I signed up for a ton of different organizations and went from there.

Jumping in to get involved and meet other students who were in similar positions helped me form some friendships that got me through my freshman year. I also learned that in most classes a simple introduction and then saying hello every day could lead to meaningful relationships as well. The best opening line for this is talking about the difficulty or timing of the class, because we all love to commiserate in college. The best part is that in college, once you make one friend, they are more than willing to introduce you to their friend group as well! This has allowed me to create some of my best memories with people I otherwise would never have connected with.

You have to be unafraid to grab opportunities and speak up for yourself in any situation. If you are interested in one of your professors’ subject areas, go to their office hours and ask more questions, it could lead to a TA position. If you think you might be interested in a leadership position in an organization, start small and then make the role as big as you can. College is all about advocating for yourself and building your own community from the ground up.