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Fall 2018
jamarcus_walker
Building Your Social Connections on Campus

By Jamarcus Walker ‘20,
President of Indianapolis Student Government

As a Chicago native attending the University of Indianapolis, I didn’t know many people on campus when I arrived here.  I’m sure you might have the same concerns.  Will I make friends; are there activities or organizations that might interest me? The answer is – YES!  As you begin to think about college and leaving the comforts of high school, I want to share some tips about getting involved on campus, finding friendships and building a social network at your new home. 

It All Starts with a Conversation

The thing a lot of people misunderstand about social connections is that it’s not as much about being some super-talkative extrovert as it is just showing up and being seen over and over again. That’s how I got started. I went to every UIndy sporting event and got involved in the campus chapel. It was never about trying to be something I’m not, but just being myself in a lot of different places. Later I’d see people I met in class or at an event and just walk up and talk with them. It’s not easy for most people to do that, myself included, but you just have to get past that first awkward conversation and remember how much it’s going to benefit you in the long run to make those connections.

Small Campus. Big Connections.

The UIndy campus is not sprawling and hard to navigate like larger schools, but the relationships you build here are just as big. Every person you meet, whether it’s a fellow student or one of your professors, might play an important role someday in helping you get involved in a new venture or landing your dream job. You just have to break the ice and go a little bit beyond the easy “Hey, how are you?” approach. Ask thoughtful questions to learn about their personality and make them feel comfortable. It really goes a long way toward building your social network.

The Three Best Ways to Get Connected

My advice for anyone trying to navigate college life and become more involved comes down to three things:
Be Yourself, Try New Things, and Just Go!

1. Be Yourself

College is a fresh start. No one cares what you did, who you were or how you dressed in high school. You also won’t feel pressured to like something just because everyone else does, so respect your own interests and pursue them. If you like to sing, join a choir. If your heritage is important to you, become a part of a club that celebrates that. Just get involved and if your interest is not represented on campus, then talk to a faculty member about making that happen. Being yourself means bringing your unique qualities to the table and sharing them with the UIndy community.

2. Try New Things

Don’t be afraid to try something that piques your interest just because you’re not exactly sure what it’s all about. As a freshman, I was curious about the UIndy Dance Marathon, but decided not to go because I’m not a dancer. Turns out that your dancing skills totally don’t matter at this event; it’s just for fun. Later, some friends basically forced me to go and I met new people who are now some of my best friends. I’ve also done the Dance Marathon every year since then. I guess the bottom line is to always see for yourself before making a decision. Writing off an opportunity before you even explore it may just keep you from discovering something amazing that you didn’t even know existed.

3. Just Go!

Never been to a lacrosse game? Go! Never seen a dinner theatre production? Go! It’s pretty much impossible to make friends just sitting in your dorm room. Go to the football games. Go to the movie nights. If you’re living on campus, go to the All-Hall events and floor programs. Even if you’re commuting, find ways to attend these events because that’s how you get to know people and make those valuable connections. College is a time for growth and adventure, so take your studies seriously, but don’t get so caught up in the learning that happens inside the classroom that you miss out on the lessons waiting in the world outside.

Finally, get to know the most active people on campus, because you will one day be them. Just be confident, trust your heart and know that UIndy is a place where you can be yourself and share experiences that will help define who you will be.

Check out UIndy’s student organizations at uindy.edu/campus-life