5 Ways to Feel More Connected On Campus
Living On or Off Campus, Get Involved & Build a Network
By Angela Strohbeck, San Diego State University
College Tourist West Coast Regional Ambassador
As a commuter student, I was always concerned that I would not get to develop the same connection to my school and peers as those who lived on campus. After being at SDSU for the past 4 years, I realized that the connections you develop are less about where you live and more about how you choose to get involved on campus. So if you want to build a bigger, better, or just different network and connection on campus jump in and get involved!
Here are some tips to help you feel more connected on campus:
1. Join an Organization or a Sport
One of the best things you can do to start developing a strong connection on campus is to become an active member of an organization. The more involved you get with an organization the more connected you will feel so be sure to ask how you can help or participate! Most schools also have competitive and intramural sports teams. This is a great way to get connected and stay fit at the same time.
When I began my freshman year at San Diego State, I decided to try out for the women’s rowing team. My time on the team significantly shaped my connection to my peers and our campus. This experience also led me to join other organizations that my teammates were involved in. Joining an established group is an easy way to build connections.
2. Attend on-campus events
Be aware of the events happening on your campus. Events such as football or basketball games are a great way to express and reinforce a strong sense of pride in your school. Often times people feel more inclined to interact with strangers if they can instantly see common ground. So next time your team makes a great shot or gets a touchdown turn to a fellow fan you haven’t met yet, give them a high-five, and strike up a conversation at half-time.
If sports aren’t your thing, don’t worry! Most campuses have events such as plays, concerts, club fairs or research symposiums. Even if you aren’t planning on joining a club or participating in a symposium, you can meet a lot of great people while checking out an event.
3. Visit your professors
If your professors are anything like my professors, then go visit them. They LOVE when students come by their office hours just to say hi. I’m lucky in that all of the professors in my field of study are really nice, interesting people. A visit to your professor’s office hours not only helps you build rapport with them, it will help you lay the foundation for your post-graduation professional network. This is particularly helpful if your major is one in which your professors identify themselves first as an active professional and then as a teacher.
Don’t know what to talk to them about? I’m sure you can find at least one thing about their class that you enjoy. It’s really best to bring up something that is relevant to their class and inspires you in some way. When I first started to visit my professors, I did it because I genuinely enjoyed what I was learning. I would casually discover things that were so relevant to what I was learning that I was compelled to share them with my professors. Genuine interest is the best way to build rapport with your professors and it will make you feel all the more connected to campus.
PLUS, if you’re interested in going to graduate school or beyond you are going to need some letters of recommendation. Your professors will certainly help you with that if they know you (and like you) well enough.
4. Get to know the staff in your department’s office
This falls along the same line as visiting your professors. It might seem a little weird to go into a department office without any official business, but if you have a quality set of staff members that won’t really matter. Not all departments will encourage students “loitering” in their office, but the department staff worth getting to know will surely encourage your visits. You will generally be able to tell if this is something worth doing the first time you stop by.
In my experience, I absolutely love visiting the office for my major. It is a small office with one staff member named Bessie. She is the heart and soul of the School of Communication. Bessie, also known as the “Comm Mom”, is probably the sweetest lady you could ever meet and she loves helping each and every student that comes into her office. If you know your department has a staff member like this, get to know them and show them they are appreciated. It will significantly impact your college experience in a positive way.
5.Get a job on campus
Most college students these days choose to work while going to school. If you need to hold a job while going to school, getting a part-time job on campus can have a lot of advantages. First of all, you will most likely work with other students from your school. This will help you meet other people from diverse backgrounds, majors, and ages. Second, this can make it easier for you get more involved on campus. If you are moderately interested in joining a club and their meetings are right before or right after your usual shifts, you might be more inclined to attend. Campus jobs are generally pretty flexible with school schedules and are definitely worth consideration.
What other ways do you connect to your peers and your campus?
Tell us what you think, leave a comment below!