One of the most thrilling experiences when attending college is the first week of freshman year when a student realizes they’re on their own and it’s time to begin creating their individual college experience. This moment can also be quite scary, I personally remember the nervous feeling in my stomach as my parent’s minivan pulled out of the dormitory parking lot. I quickly realized, wow this is really happening. Attending an out of state university with just under 20,000 students provided me with two options beginning that moment; avoid interacting with others or create new relationships by getting involved on campus.

Similar to the start of high school, first-year college students have an abundance of campus activities, organizations, and events at their fingertips. The one difference from high school compared to college is having a stronger personal identity and understanding of interests. These two positives create the ability for a student to specifically seek out what they’re looking for and create their positive college experience.

There are numerous methods to overcome the initial feelings of anxiousness and being homesick, and a primary way is getting involved. As a student begins connecting with classmates, advisors, and professors it helps make the school seem smaller and less overwhelming. Those initial feelings of homesickness will seem more normal and not insurmountable.

When researching colleges to apply during junior and senior year of high school it’s important to take into account the campus life each individual school has to offer. Remember, this should not be the number one reason why you attend a particular college or university, it’s on the list of reasons but not one of the top criteria which should always be your desired major. When thinking about campus life, consider what activities you’ve taken part throughout high school that you enjoy. Many four year colleges offer the same type of program or a similar option for students. Interest or service organizations, intermural sports, the arts, Greek life, and being a fan during NCAA college games are just some of the many ways students begin connecting to their campus while simultaneously creating lifelong friendships.

Working at creating a positive campus life experience will result in both short and long-term outcomes. First, combating those initial fears when starting college followed by building lifelong connections and friendships. So remember to get involved and access what the college or university has to offer during the college years.