Personalize your UA experienceBy Hunter Richey | 09/23/2016 11:19am
Last week, The University of Alabama announced that this year’s freshman class was not only the largest in the school’s 185-year history, but also the most academically talented, with more than 40 percent of incoming students scoring 30 or higher on the ACT. With such growth in student enrollment, and with the continuous expansion of campus facilities, the resources and opportunities available to students at the University have arguably never been greater. On any given day, students can be found building robots for national competition, meeting recruiters from Fortune 500 companies, or preparing to face off against highly skilled SEC opponents with any of Alabama’s talented sports teams.
With more than 7,500 first-year students making up this year’s freshman class, it is easy to see how The University of Alabama may at times feel like a huge place. A simple walk across campus will show just how many people there are that a student has never met before. As a senior, I meet classmates every semester that I have yet to meet, and a new class of first year students arrives every fall. Part of what makes the University so special, however, is just that –– the influx of various and distinct opinions and ideas that begins again each and every August. With over 37,600 students, The University of Alabama resembles a small yet academically driven city, reflecting the many ideological angles and aspirations of its students.
While the University is certainly a big place, it does not have to seem that way to the individual students that make it what it is. If I could give a single piece of advice to a freshman student (other than to attend class), it would undoubtedly be to get involved early and often. Attend club meetings, apply for positions, and find something that you like to do, preferably with people you like to do it with. Not only is this campus full of opportunities, it is full of people seeking them out. Our university is big, but by getting involved, it becomes much more tight-knit, and comparatively shrinks with perspective.
Getting involved on campus allows students to not only feel at home at a seemingly smaller, more familiar university, but allows students to personalize their experience at the University beyond simply choosing a specific degree path. While school work is certainly important, learning does not have to cease after walking out of class. The closer I get to graduation, the more I appreciate the idea that much of what is learned in college is from outside of the classroom. Campus organizations of all kinds allow students the opportunity to develop leadership and personal skills that reflect positively on all areas of student life. The University of Alabama is a large school full of possibilities. By involving oneself early on at the University, a student can create a more navigable campus that will allow them to be better positioned to accomplish their goals in their time at Alabama. The University of Alabama has something for everyone, and finding out what that “something” may be is possibly the most valuable accomplishment a student can have in their first year on campus.
Hunter Richey is a senior majoring in economics and political science. His column runs biweekly.