Big is Smaller than Small

by Shannon on March 16, 2011

Guest Post by Katelyn Fish, UGA Junior.

Big is less than small? You’re probably thinking, “This girl has no idea what she is talking about.” Right? Actually, you’re WRONG. By this, I mean that you can make any big campus feel a lot smaller than it actually is.

As I began my college search about four years ago, I started out looking at smaller schools, because I thought that I would be able to get more involved on campus, pay more attention in smaller classers and potentially run track or play basketball. I basically just thought that I would have an overall better experience. I was really involved at my high school and knew that I wanted to hold leadership positions in college. I had no idea that going to a big school would give me the same leadership opportunities, if not more, than going to a smaller school.

When I started visiting these smaller schools such as Furman University, Presbyterian College, Valdosta, the list goes on… I wasn’t getting the “at home feel” I thought that I would experience upon setting foot at the university. Although all of these were great, beautiful schools, none of them seemed like a good fit for me. At this crossroads, my college search took a complete 180-degree turn.

I began looking at schools like Clemson, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina, and I knew that it was more my territory. I loved the big school football, southern charm, Greek life and all the variety in what I could do. Thus, when I received my acceptance to the University of Georgia, I didn’t even think twice.

Upon coming to UGA, I wasn’t sure where to start to get involved. The campus seemed so big and let’s be real – I had NO idea where to even begin to find my classes. Luckily, I moved in early to do sorority recruitment, so I was able to walk my class schedule before classes startedhand. Sorority recruitment was a great choice, because it not only got me to campus early but also allowed me to meet and bond with so many girls who were all in the same boat as me.

When I joined the Pan-Hellenic sorority Alpha Gamma Delta, I knew that I had made the right choice for me. The sorority helped me to get involved in so many different things. In my freshman year, I was already in more organizations than you can count on your fingers and toes. You definitely need to get your feet wet in everything that interests you to decide what you really want to focus on. I joined a philanthropy — UGA HEROS benefitting children affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS, played on a co-ed intramural basketball team, joined the public relations organization for my major (PRSSA), participated in local psychology studies and way too much more.

I would say about halfway into the semester I really started to feel like I had found my place at UGA. I was involved in the things that I really wanted to be a part of and volunteering for leadership roles in these organizations. The campus, although quite large and very spread out, had come to seem very centralized for me. Most of my classes were in close proximity since they were all the entry-level classes, the dining halls were right by the dorms and the student center was just a glance out of my window.

I was able to find my niche, and by doing this, it really helped to make a school with 35,000 students feel like it had about 500. My options were endless, and I was able to maximize what I wanted out of my college experience.

Parting words of wisdom:

1.) Don’t be afraid of a large school.  Visit larger schools you think you might be interested in. If you’re still not sure, spend a night and a couple days on campus to get a really good feel for what it’s like before nixing it completely off your list.

2.) Look at the school’s student organization website to see what they have to offer for your particular interests.

3.) Get to school early to map out your classes and settle in. This proves to be less stressful when classes start.

4.) Learn the bus routes. It will make your life 1 million 700 thousand times easier.

5.) Last & Most important—Get involved immediately. It will make you feel better connected to the campus and less like a little fish in a big pond.

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