After the year we’ve had, it’s extremely easy to be bitter. The lives we led and the things we took for granted have suddenly disappeared, and we have come to begin missing things that didn’t seem all that important in the past, the biggest of these things being social interaction.
The class of 2024 has suddenly been thrown into a new environment with people they don’t know. People they aren’t allowed to meet face to face. As a part of the class of 2024, this has been an extremely challenging time. I went to school in the same district from infancy. I know all the kids like they’re my own siblings, and I’ve had the same friends for over 12 years. I was so excited to start college and expand that friend group, to make new friends and new connections. But in the midst of a global pandemic, that has become a lot harder.
Every year, KU creates a Facebook page for the incoming freshman and their parents. This year, the topic of discussion has overwhelmingly COVID-19 related. (Surprise! Bet you didn’t see that coming!) As school has finally begun and the freshmen have been settling into their new home, a lot of parents and students have been expressing over the Facebook page that their kids are all experiencing the same emotion: loneliness.
Now, I’m sure this isn’t something that only freshmen are experiencing. Students of all ages and backgrounds are pretty darn lonely right now. Not being able to gather makes it so hard to not feel alone, all cooped up in your dorm room. I’ve been struggling with this for almost a month now. But I’ve come to realize something: we have to adapt to our new normal. There are still ways for us to meet and make connections, we just might have to look a little harder for them. I wanted to make a list of things that have been working for me to make new connections and socialize.
Something that helped me immediately in my first year was the instagram account @kuclassof2024. The account allows you to DM them and share a photo of you along with a little description of yourself. I did this back in July, and it connected me to so many awesome people that I still enjoy talking to, even after school has started! It also helped connect me with a few other freshmen I would be meeting in KU’s marching band, The Marching Jayhawks. That leads me to my next point….
I know, I know… you’ve probably been hearing this for years at your high school. But it was true then, and it’s true now! The wonderful thing about college is that there is truly a place for everyone. A club, an intramural sport, or an activity. Of course extracurriculars look a little different this year, but it’s still so gratifying to see new faces, even if it’s over zoom. I’ve already gotten involved in three organizations: the KU Marching Jayhawks, Her Campus (duh), and the University Daily Kansan. I’ve already made some awesome friends through these extracurriculars. I can’t imagine college without my band of piccolos at my side, or the lovely ladies of Her Campus, or the crazy talented writers at the UDK.
With that being said, here’s a few tips for finding a club that suits you and your interests! First, I want you to ask yourself a simple set of questions:
What do I already love to do?
Don’t join a club just because it’s convenient. Join something you already love doing, or something you’re already interested in! Love art? Join an art club! Always been curious about soccer? Join a team! Does doing service make your heart soar? Join a service organization! If you don’t love what you’re doing, the experience won’t be enjoyable.
- When does this club meet? Will I have time for this?
Okay, so this question doesn’t mean exactly what you think it does. Some clubs may be meeting while you have class, and that defeats the whole purpose of joining a club! A lot of clubs will have an alternate way for you to interact with them if this is the case, but not all do. Reach out to advisors, and ask questions! This also goes hand in hand with overcommitment. Do NOT join a club if you already have a schedule chock full of activity! I’m the type of person who would join every club on campus if she could, but trust me- that just isn’t possible. (I tried in highschool. Trust me, don’t do it!) Make sure whatever you do doesn’t interfere with your studies!
I thought that list would be longer, but it turns out that it’s actually pretty simple. Do what you love, and don’t overcommit yourself. But I have one last little question you should ask yourself after you try out your new activity: is this really the club for me?
Maybe you love art, but you tried out that multimedia club and it just wasn’t your jam. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try soccer, but realized that you have the coordination of a worm (me too, me too), or maybe you realized this type of service doesn’t align with your ideals. That’s completely okay! You tried, and for that you deserve a medal! You won’t mesh with every club you try, and most clubs don’t make you commit at the first meeting. The best thing you can do is try it, and if you don’t like it, you know for the future!
Another simple way to get involved? Participate in your classes! Whether that be in person or on Zoom, participating will help your classmates get to know you. Start a groupchat with them! Add them on Instagram or Snapchat! A few of my classes have made group chats so students can help each other with online learning, and blow off steam from their day. There’s so many endless possibilities. We may not be able to go to gatherings right now, but someone is always available to you. It just takes some time and effort, but once you do, it’s totally worth it. Below I’m going to put a list of websites to help you begin finding organizations to join. Happy hunting!
Websites to help you find clubs: