Getting Campus Support
College is hard, especially in a new environment and possibly a new city. Even though the University of Rochester is not that big, it’s a significant transition from high school. Some form of support system, whether that is built in a club, classroom, or with friends is a great resource to help you in this new world. But how do you go about finding these clubs and groups?
First and foremost, you should identify your interests. Maybe a sport, game, or activity you really enjoyed at some point in your life. Or possibly something you always wanted to try but didn’t know how to start. Then, try to attend one of the activity fairs that happen each semester that display all the clubs on campus (and help you get in contact with clubs). In this effort, a great tool to use is CampusGroups, which is an app you can download and a website that once you log in with your UR credentials, gives you access to all the University of Rochester’s exclusive groups and group events. You can search for any group you like and reach out to current members over email. And if you can’t find a group that fits your interests, you can always petition to make a new group on campus that has not been created yet.
It might sound a bit corny to start or join a group on campus but truthfully, it really helped me connect with a great group of people, from several different class years, who shared my interests and showed me ways to get involved on campus when I just started. Even if you have established friends in your dorms or residence halls, it’s always great to branch out and connect with people who you can find a community with.
Since you’ve established your interests and have more friends on campus, now comes some of the tricky stuff; feeling confident in your academic life on campus. Like I have said in posts before, Rochester is a hard school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t thrive here, you were accepted for a reason. But to thrive, one of the most important steps in that success is connecting with professors, ie; those responsible for giving you your grades, writing recommendation letters, and those employed in the fields you see yourself being in. And I can assure you that you will find at least one professor that you can really connect with and appreciate their style of instruction. However, you will probably come across at least one professor that you may have a hard time with, either with their teaching style or maybe the course material. You’re going to find more commonalities with some people over others, and you may even find yourself extremely successful in those favorite classes and struggling in others. With that, the best advice I can offer you to help you in your academic career is to really work on your communication with professors inside and outside of class. Yes, it is absolutely important to participate in class and work with your professors and peers during class time. Though, it is also super valuable to attend your professor’s office hours and reach out to them if you need extra help or support with something. If you are struggling in a class or with the teaching style of a professor, attending office hours helps tremendously. And may even give you extra points for your overall grade. And if you find yourself very successful in a class and/or work well with the instructor, it’s still a great idea to attend office hours. If you don’t find yourself with enough time in the day, you should prioritize going to the office hours for classes you are struggling in. Though, if you have the extra time, it is incredibly beneficial to attend office hours for the classes you are successful in.
During these meetings, you can talk with these professional scholars in your field of study. And as professionals in their field, they can give amazing advice to you, a young scholar in that same field, even if you don’t want to be a professor specifically. These meetings give you more time to discuss the material, learn more about the resources you used in class, and can also help guide your academic trajectory. I loved reaching out to some of my favorite professors and asking them to give me advice on some of the papers I wrote for them and other classes. I knew it was going to be an easy conversation, and I trusted their opinions. Also, they have been in the academy long enough to become professors, so they are great people to advise you on what other professors or others in the academy are interested in.
And it’s always great to remember, Rochester is a prolific research university. Meaning, a significant amount of the faculty are working on their own research (or are close to people in their field who are). Sometimes they are looking for assistants or interns for their work! And if they are not, you can ask about other work within the field that you could become more involved in. At the very least, once you build this great relationship, professors can be your references. You can have them be advisors for independent programs, and they can sign off as approving of you to possible jobs or schools in the future. Regardless, if you’re looking for a professor to help you out in a class or you are striving to build a great repertoire with a professional in your field, it is an incredible resource to form relationships with faculty and will definitely help you in your academic and professional career along with finding support on campus.
Finding support on campus is very important both in your academic and social/personal life. It may help you find a safety net in the unfamiliar ocean of college.