Go out, become involved

Sean Flack

One of the biggest myths I believed about college was that friends would just flock to me. Like a magnet attracting paper clips, I imagined all of these video game-loving, Klosterman-reading people stopping at my door to ask if I wanted to listen to Fleet Foxes and watch “Almost Famous.” And hey, maybe I was in the wrong dorm, but that simply did not happen.

I tried all the techniques. I left my door open. I attended house meetings. I was even on floor and hall council in hopes I would meet cool people. But alas, I only met a small handful of acquaintances.

But this story does have a happy ending. I eventually did meet some great friends, but I had to get involved. I had to put myself out there.

That’s probably the best advice I can offer to college freshmen: just make a leap and join a club or organization of some kind. Some of the closest friends I’ve ever met have been through various extracurricular activities.

And it’s important to find people like that in college, because whether you like it or not, you’re most likely going to grow apart from some of your high school friends. It’s no one’s fault, really. You just have different lives now.

College is such a great place for this to happen, to start developing new passions or to build on already existing ones. Joining some sort of extracurricular activity related to your major is more than just a resume builder, it’s a nice break from the hum-drum life of homework and WebCT.

I know it’s tempting to just listen to your headphones before class starts, but you can also meet fantastic people in your classes.

And believe me, that’s a nice perk. Sometimes classes can get overwhelming and it’s nice to have someone there braving the storm with you. It won’t be awkward if you strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You’re going to be in a class together for the next couple of months; perfect ice breaker.

Also, don’t be afraid to try new things and meet new people. I’m not advocating picking up a drug habit or anything, but just do something you normally wouldn’t. Iowa State has so many opportunities to offer, it’d be a shame if the highlight of your freshman year was the quesadillas at the Union Drive Marketplace.

Being involved with the radio station was something I never imagined I would do when coming to college, but here I am in my senior year — it’s been one of the highlights of my college career.

I thought I had myself figured out, but the truth is I’m still learning things about myself. Being open to new experiences helps you in that process, believe me.

What I’m trying to get at — and what I wish someone would’ve told me — is that you can’t just sit around waiting for things to happen. You can’t just expect people and parties to fall into your lap. You have to do more than just leaving your door open. College is a new adventure that almost requires making leaps and bounds from high school.