Don’t wait until you’re settled to get involved

Ava Fisher, Opinions Editor

Another academic year, another Get on Board Day. It’s that time of year again, when every student at The University of Alabama has the opportunity to explore who they are, and who they will be in their academic career. 

Get on Board Day will be held Aug. 26, on the Quad, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. From academic clubs to volunteer opportunities to groups that advocate for any number of causes, the event offers involvement in all aspects of campus. 

At my first GOBD, my roommate persuaded me to go after a lot of hesitance on my end. After all, we would at least receive free T-shirts and a lot of free food. If there’s one word that could entice practically any college student, it’s “free.”

In the knowledge that I would soon be able to double my T-shirt collection, I attended any booth that even remotely sounded interesting. An a cappella group? Well, I had been in choir in high school. An organization that conducted neuroscience research? Why not? A white water rafting group? I was kind of scared, but I was sold. 

By the end of the day, with a bag full of free goodies, I walked back to my dorm with the contact information for 20 different organizations. I was convinced that at least one of them would be the right fit for me. 

I never found out if my suspicion was correct. After collecting all of this information, I never tried to become involved with any of these organizations. I convinced myself that since it was my first semester of college, I had to be more settled before I got involved in any way.

At least, this was how I rationalized it. In retrospect, my hesitance was more a reflection of anxiety over all the changes in my life. I had moved across the country and out of my parents’ house. Now what? 

Second semester, I was finally ready to involve myself in campus life. I began to search for opportunities across campus and was finally adjusting to the college experience. Then, a few weeks later, all students were sent home to quarantine for the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic.

I didn’t suspect that I would live through such a historic event. If I had known, I definitely would’ve gotten the most out of my first GOBD.

Stop waiting for tomorrow. We are only on campus for four years, and while we are here, the University is our home. Tuscaloosa is our city.

College can open doors and inspire careers, so it’s easy to treat the experience like a stepping stone. While it is a valuable investment in our futures, college is also a very real period in our lives.

We can actively shape the world around us while we are still students. We can see the issues around us and form solutions to them. We can work on ourselves so that we might become the leaders we seek to be. 

Freshmen, connect with those around you. If you are lonely or lost, chances are the people around you feel the same way. Get plugged in now and see where it goes. 

If being in 20 organizations is your style, go for it. If you’d rather place your focus on one cause, do it. You’ll never regret trying new things, but you may regret never trying at all. 

Sophomores, it’s not too late. Even if you couldn’t get involved in an organization last year, it is still here waiting for you. Try something completely new — maybe it’ll launch you into your future career.

Juniors and seniors, take some time to do the things you’re passionate about. When faced with graduate school applications and job interviews, it can feel like all your time is spent focusing on the future. GOBD is a reminder to live presently and have fun. 

Regardless of how you spend your time at GOBD, make sure it is the best experience for you and your unique interests. You never know what you could learn, how you could be challenged, or what unrecognized passion you might have. It’s time to find out.