Freshmen Resident Assistants (RAs) at Gannon University are able to observe, assist and learn from first-year students as they adjust to life in college.
RAs recognize that the adjustment process is unique to every individual. Some students connect with people and feel at home very easily, while others take longer to find where they belong on campus.
Although everyone’s transition to college is different, a big piece of advice to every first-year student is to step outside of your comfort zone.
Coming to a new place filled with new people can be intimidating. It will be easy to want to stay close to people with whom you’ve already become acquainted. These people could be your roommates, friends from high school or anyone you may have already known prior to college.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel as if you’ve been acquainted with anyone, you may just find comfort in staying to yourself.
Whether you choose to stay with a comforting group or keep to yourself without connecting to people, staying in your comfort zone could make you miss out on an opportunity to meet people who could positively impact your experience at Gannon.
It sometimes takes effort to find a sense of belonging in a new environment. Some people are lucky enough to hit it off with some of their earliest connections on campus.
Most people, however, will need to expand their horizons for a bit before they find a core group of people with whom they can identify.
You have many choices on how to go about expanding those horizons and discovering all that Gannon has to offer. Join a club or organization that you care about.
Go to a campus sporting event that you like. Join a fraternity or sorority if you’re interested in Greek Life.
Go on an Alternative Break Service Trip (ABST). Attend Residence Life programs to learn about your neighbors in the halls. Ask a few members of your favorite class to study with you on the weekend.
These engagement opportunities will help you to reach out and connect with people who share similar interests. If you step out of your comfort zone to take part in these opportunities, the people you get connected with could become some of your closest friends on campus.
Delaney McMeekin, a sophomore elementary/special education major, had a valuable experience stepping outside of her comfort zone when deciding to go on an ABST her freshman year.
“It wasn’t traveling the world that I was afraid of, but the traveling with people I didn’t know,” she said.
“I got a spot on a trip with mostly upperclassmen… Those upperclassmen are now my friends and people who I see and stop to talk to on campus very frequently.”
RAs are great resources to help assist you in how to get engaged and ultimately find a sense of fulfillment while at Gannon. They have the tools and resources to allow you to make the college experience your own.
Your only responsibility is to be courageous and willing enough to want to pursue these opportunities, even if they don’t seem like something you’d typically do. You have the power to make your Gannon experience amazing, and the secret to achieving that is to step outside of your comfort zone and discover where you belong.