I Got Involved Too Late--Don't Make My Mistake

It’s easy to be too cool for it—getting involved.  In anything, really: your workload, a fitness routine, remembering to floss.  But in this case, I find it easiest to be too cool to get involved with your college community.

I started out college with the attitude of a high schooler: I don’t want to be here but I have to.  With parents who care about my future (what monsters, right?), college wasn’t optional (thank god). 

I made my debut at a junior college, too lazy to apply to more than one university as a high school senior and too apathetic to follow up when the one I did apply to and got accepted to wanted me to register for orientation by a certain date.  I went to classes when I felt like it, but my life centered around boys, my friends, and too much partying (sorry Dad).

Luckily I snapped out of it pretty quickly, devoting myself to my grades by the second semester of my freshman year.  But even then, I still didn’t get it.  I put all my energy into doing well in class and took absolutely no interest in the resources surrounding me.

I missed game nights, concerts, poetry readings, protests, and club meetings without even realizing it, without even caring.  I did manage to get through it in two years and successfully transfer to the university that had originally accepted me when I was 17, but with what memories?

Then I was really in it: the college experience.  I was at a university with people who actually lived on campus, people from different states and even different countries who came all this way for an education.  Again, I missed game nights, concerts, poetry readings, protests, and club meetings—without even realizing it.

I went to class, I got my grades, I went to work (or to bed).  I made no more than acquaintances with any of my peers and I never even visited more than the journalism building where most of my classes took place.

However, something changed this semester, which ironically happens to be my last at university and as an undergrad.  By a graduation requirement, I was forced to enroll in a journalism class that basically makes me a full-time writer for the school’s newspaper.

I enrolled with dread, well aware that while I’m a journalism student, I have zero interest in school news, hard news, or newspaper writing.  I’m here for fashion, not covering the opening of a new pizza place on campus.

But as the semester progressed, something amazing happened: I got passionate about my work.  I attended every event with excitement, dug into faculty scandals with vigor, and idolized my professor for her devotion to the university. 

No.  That didn’t happen.  I’m still incredibly bitter about having to devote so much time to something I’m not getting paid for and have no interest in, but I am beginning to see the silver lining.

Through being forced to cover what happens on my campus, I’m also being forced to know my campus.  I have to know where the Student Union is, which I genuinely didn’t even know existed before.  I have to know who goes here, what they think about their professors, why they chose this school, and what their plans are for the future.

I have to talk to students, professors, janitors, even cafeteria workers.  And no, not all of the subject matter is completely riveting.  In fact, most of it I couldn’t give less of a shit about.  But what it does remind me of is why I chose journalism as a career.

True, most of my interest lies in fashion, but there’s a reason I wanted to be a fashion writer: I love to write about passion.  Whether that be for the collections of the season or the gluten-free options at the school café, I like to see people care about what they do.  I like to see what excites people, what lights their fires. 

Through this requirement, I’ve been exposed to student life.  I’ve seen what a difference it makes to get involved and actually care about where you go to school.  I’ve seen pride in your university and, more importantly, in yourself. 

For accomplishing what many people don’t bother with: seeking a higher education and maybe having fun while you’re doing it.  For seeking a higher education and succeeding.  For seeking a higher education for no one but yourself. 

In conclusion, it’s still easy to be too cool to get involved.  But is it fun?  Is it worth it?  Or is it better to attend the Athletic Department’s carnival event, no matter how cheesy it may be? 

Take it from me and my last-ditch effort to get involved on campus: do it.  From the beginning.  Because it’s important to go to university, but it’s better to go to university and have the memories to back it up.


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