Starting college in a new place full of unfamiliar faces can understandably make some people feel a bit disconnected. After all, it's not easy to go from the warmth and familiarity of your friends and family at home to the uncertainty of a new location.
But you can rest assured that the majority of the other students you'll encounter during those first weeks on campus are in the same boat, just trying to find their social footing.
One of the best ways to do that is to get involved in student organizations or groups on campus. These extracurricular activities are an excellent way to break the ice while encouraging you to grow personally and professionally. Read on to learn about some of the exciting opportunities offered at The College of St. Scholastica (CSS).
The great news for those who are hungry for new and exciting on-campus activities is that there are tons of groups and organizations you could get involved with at CSS! The only tricky part may be narrowing it down.
CSS Student Senate President Stephanie Peters is no stranger to student clubs, as she has gotten involved with a handful of organizations during her tenure at The College. Her advice? Don't be afraid to just give a club a try and attend a meeting. They're always looking for members and there's no harm in leaving the group if you decide it isn't for you.
"Sign up for as many clubs as possible in the first month of school," Peters suggests. "There's a student activities fair at the beginning of the year for people to check out what's out there and sign up — I feel like I signed up for pretty much everything I could!"
Most of the groups on campus will fall into one of the following five categories: academic and professional, spiritual, social justice or sports and lifestyle.
This is easily the biggest subset of student organizations at CSS, as there are student groups aligned with nearly every academic pursuit. Art, science, math, computers, philosophy, psychology ... the list goes on!
These organizations are a great way for you to meet peers in your field and take part in professional development activities like hearing from guest speakers or working on special projects related to your major.
Another benefit of joining an academic club is that other members, as well as the faculty advisors, can serve as great resources if you're ever struggling with a particular subject and need some extra help. These are also students who you will likely share classes with throughout your entire college career, so meeting them early on will help you feel more comfortable at the start of each semester.
It's not always easy for students of faith to keep up with their level of religious involvement when they've moved to a new area. These groups can help you make connections with local religious leaders and build a network of spiritually-devoted friends. CSS students have several options for not only developing a better understanding of their own faith, but learning about the beliefs of followers of other religions.
Better Together, for instance, is a student organization that involves students of all religious backgrounds. These students educate each other on the differences and similarities of their faiths while working side-by-side to serve greater social justice causes within the community.
If you're looking for a student organization within this particular realm, you might consider Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Muslim Student Union or the Calling All Catholics Club.
The Benedictine values of community, hospitality, respect, stewardship and love of learning are on full display in these organizations. These groups touch on a wide array of social justice issues, with groups dedicated to advancing civil rights, protecting the environment and helping to feed the hungry, to name a few. There are plenty of noble causes to support, and each offers you a chance to make friends while expanding your understanding of the world around you.
"The social justice clubs are some of the most popular groups on campus," Peters says. "They're a really great opportunity for students to be exposed to other cultures and things you maybe didn't get to see growing up."
Some organizations you'll find within this category include the Black Student Union, Active Minds, Justice Together, Amnesty International and Earth Action.
There are several clubs and organizations that may appeal to students who are looking to stay active. The figure skating club and club hockey teams are a great option for those who want to capitalize on their love of Minnesota winter sports. Not your cup of tea? That's no problem! There are also opportunities for you to get involved in cheerleading, dance, volleyball, rugby and many so much more.
Organized club sports are just part of the equation, though. If you'd like to take advantage of the some of the amazing outdoor activity opportunities in the Duluth area, you'll definitely want to check out the Northern Explorers club. This group trains members to be guides for other students, focusing on how to safely lead wilderness and outdoor activities like kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking and trail biking excursions.
Looking to branch out and try something new? The campus life organizations at CSS offer an eclectic mix of interests to explore. Have a flair for creative exploration? The Freshwater Review Art and Literary Journal is a campus group that puts together an annual compilation of writing, photography and fine art produced by members of the CSS community.
You could also try your hand at beekeeping as part of Bee's Knees. Or maybe you'd rather get yourself wrapped up in the Crochet and Knitting club. You can also get in touch with your inner Woodward and Bernstein as part of CSS' student newspaper, The Script. If planning campus events seems more your style, try to find a spot on the Campus Activities Board!
There's a student organization for many popular hobbies or interests. But don't be discouraged if you can't find an established group - you could always try to launch a campus organization of your own!
By getting involved in student organizations, you can expect to grow as a person. Peters believes the time she spent in a host of different groups has made a big impact.
"I definitely developed my leadership skills and have become a better communicator," she says.
The benefits go beyond personal development, as well. Meeting new people and becoming better connected to the campus community can go a long way toward making you feel at home. So don't be shy! Get involved and make the most out of your college experience.
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