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What are the first things I should look to be involved in at college for an incoming freshman?

I am quite nervous about going to a large college (roughly 20,000). I wish to make my application stand out to future employers by getting involved with the school however I am not sure what exactly would make me stand out as an individual.
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Lindsay’s Answer

Trisha, this is a great question and it's awesome that you are already thinking about it. Big schools have a lot to offer so hopefully you'll be able to align your activities / extracurriculars with your interest areas. Start by going to any orientation events that your school holds. Also, talk to your counselor early on and establish a good relationship here. She or He will be able to help guide you throughout your college journey and if you have a strong relationship, they will likely think of you when events come up that pertain to your interests. That said, college is a great time to explore many things. Don't just join clubs or get involved with things because you think they will help you get a job in a certain profession - I'd recommend trying a few different things. It's great to build your network, even outside your industry, and college is a perfect place to start. Have fun!

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Anzar’s Answer

Hi Trisha,

Firstly congratulations. This will be an exciting and daunting transition for most of the students.

When I was at your age my dad suggested me the following and this holds true even now hence suggesting the same to you.

Start your first year with confidence by doing these following things.

Schedule your campus tour. You can show up and walk around on your own, but scheduling a tour gives will give you more insight into the different areas of campus and what you can expect on your first day. Avoid not knowing how to get to your dorms or your first class and make sure this “to-do” is a priority. While you’re exploring campus, make sure you note where the emergency points and security office are.

Improve your reading skills. Consistent reading not only increases your speed, it helps you process what you’re reading faster. If your freshman English professor hasn’t already assigned summer reading, get your hands on the syllabus or recommended reading list and see how many books you can knock out before the first day of college. 

Start networking early. If you haven’t already, consider joining LinkedIn. It’s never too early to start building connections and working your way up to that awesome internship or part-time job. Connect with classmates, friends, and even your professors.

Get to know your professors. Show initiative and willingness to participate by developing a relationship with your professor before school starts. As the year goes on, they might also be willing to act as your mentor and guide you through challenging coursework and college life. Remember to be respectful and sincere when contacting them.

Participate in orientation activities. Orientation is a crucial time to start making friends, researching clubs and organizations, and getting to know your campus environment. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to ask questions and get involved.

Last but not the least make lots of friends and don't miss to enjoy the college times. You are on the verge of making memories for life time.

All the best.

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Emily A.’s Answer

Hi Trisha,

I agree with Lindsay when she suggested to get involved with clubs and organizations that you're interested in. Maybe even try out some clubs and organizations that are more "wild-cards". You might be able to show up to a meeting just once to see if you feel like you fit. You can simply leave if you don't fit in without any obligation. Who knows? Maybe you'll discover a hidden passion and make lasting friendships.

That being said, leadership looks good on resumes. Take your first year to explore different clubs. Try all kinds of clubs, really put yourself out there. Use your second year to commit to one or two- one club for fun, and one club that is related to your major. Then for your junior and senior years, run for a leadership position within the club- be it treasurer, VP, President. When you have that leadership position, make sure you provide your unique creative vision. A common interview question is "When was a time you created an initiative on your own?". You can use your college clubs to try to get some of your ideas off the ground- no matter how small.

I also think Anzar's advice about getting to know your professors is SUPER important. You will find that social networks and connections can get you a job faster than anything else. Your professors are a crucial link to get you some important initial contacts in your field. Plus, your professors will likely be the ones writing you letters of recommendation when you need them. Go to their office hours and ask them questions- professors love this and it allows them to get to know you and know that you are taking their course seriously- trust me, I'm a professor.

Hope that helps! Above all, remember that you don't need to have it all figured out yet. Take some pressure off of yourself and have some fun while you figure out who you are. A lot of it will come to you, not the other way around.

Emily A. recommends the following next steps:

Year one- Try as many clubs and organization as you can.
Year two- Seriously commit to one or two- one for fun and one related to your major.
Years three and four- run for leadership positions in those clubs.
Start an initiative in the club.