Being a grad student is rough. You’ve got bills to pay, research papers to write, assistantship opportunities — the daily grind can seem unrelenting, even isolating, at times. After all, the student body is only getting younger as you advance in your grad career and it can feel like as time passes there’s been a disconnect between you, campus life, and your social ventures.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are a grad student looking for ways to get involved on campus and make friends, look no further, I’ve got you covered.
Where to Look
Getting involved on campus can be a daunting task for someone who doesn’t really know where to start. This is doubly true for someone who might just be trying to figure out their interests (it’s never too late to start a hobby or explore new things!).
For those of you seeking engagement at the beginning of the school year — long before the stress of keeping up with assignments and test dates sets in — a good way to get started is by going to the Weeks of Welcome events that happen each year on campus. You’ll usually see posting about the events happening during those weeks and you can check the school website.
One of the best ways to get connected with student orgs is by simply heading down to Student Center South. There are often different tabling events happening throughout the day. If you regularly pass by on your way to lunch, back to your car, or back to your dorm, stop by and check them out. Most tables will have you leave your contact info so that you can be in the know about future meetings and or events.
Don’t have time to go inside? Just take a look at the different yard signs in the grass as you pass by the student center. These advertise dates and meeting times for various orgs, which would allow you to put aside some time for a meeting or event in advance versus getting the dates at sporadic times.
Do you follow any university orgs on social media? Be it Instagram, Twitter, or whatever else, more often than not the student orgs will make it their business to promote different events that they are hosting on their stories and in their posts.
There’s No Such Thing as Too Old
The most important thing to remember when trying to get involved on campus is to have fun. Going to these different events and making new friends can seem like normal college things that you’ve just outgrown or have missed your opportunity to begin. They’re not.
Having fun and just enjoying yourself on campus is not something bound by how old or how far in your career you are. Letting go of the idea that you have to squeeze as much into your twenties as possible is something that can be hard to do. But think about it this way, when you’re done with your master’s program or doctoral degree, will you regret all of the opportunities you didn’t take to make friends and enjoy this last stepping stone to the beginning of your career? If the answer is yes, take that chance.