As I approach graduation, I’m forced me to look back at my experience at Arizona Western College. That makes me feel uneasy, and I quickly realized why. My college experience hasn’t been quite what I expected.
I never made any unforgettable friendships with my fellow classmates while working on fun but challenging projects in any English or Math class. Most of the general classes we’re forced to take don’t make for enthusiastic students. Copying off of others’ notes doesn’t make lasting relationships, as it did in high school.
Long story short, coming here doesn’t automatically mean you’ll make tons of connections. There are many reasons why building friendships isn’t so easy here.
Every man an island
Freshman year, I was open to meeting new people from different generations, countries and cultures. Little did I know that those would be some of the reasons why many students are uncomfortable with each other.
We all live in our own little worlds. It’s hard breaking through those walls when our supposed bonding time is during dreadful group projects like chapter presentations.
Not only does the assignment seem unnecessary, it is the worst ice breaker; yet too many classes insist on having them. One student completely bails on the group, another only shows up once, and the other two are stuck grudgingly poorly writing the assignment.
Homework can take over our lives and leave us in miserable conditions where socializing seems less important than grades. On top of that, some of us also work full-time jobs barely able to pay for our tuition, our $300 textbooks and our rent.
The time to get to know our peers is only a short four months, and it feels like half of the class withdraws by the end of that time.
We’ve narrowed down the selection of people we allow into our lives. Many of us have been heartbroken by previous classmates, so we tread carefully while talking to anyone in college.
On social media, the idea of being cold and hateful towards college and classmates has been romanticized. It’s pretty much normal now to never look up at people and listen to them.
When we enter our classes, we are greeted not by interactive classmates and professors, but by a sea of faces staring down at phones. College students have embraced being anti-social and accepted it rather than doing something about it.
Sophomore year, I decided even with all the stress in my life to join the Art Curiosity and Secrets art club at the San Luis Learning Center. I was considering dropping out of college, but stayed partly because of my experience with ACAS.
Joining a club has given me the opportunity to work with peers with similar interests, give back to the community I have grown to love, have fun get-togethers with students who share my passion to create, fundraise for a field trip of our choosing, network with students in my career path, and of course, make unforgettable friendships.
AWC has more than 50 clubs to offer, and you might want to look in to joining one. Maybe you’re not into anything artsy like I was, but one of the business, science, choir, political, culinary or athletic clubs might be for you, not to mention music, art or theatre. If not, you can even start your own club here.
Of course, some of you are crushing it in night clubs, living wild lives with countless valuable friends thinking that none of this applies to you, but you might even find this kind of “clubbing” more constructive.
“I’m hardcore introverted, so I don’t usually reach out,” says Erin, a 24-year-old member of the Theatre Club. “Joining a club has been important because people of all ages share my need, whether it is to create art or to improve as a person.”
“Joining a club is to meet people and have fun!” says a member of Spotlight, AWC’s cable-TV news show.
“Through clubs, you get to learn many skills,” says 20-year-old Enrique, last year’s Student Government Association Vice President of Marketing. “Each club has its own purpose, like helping people out.
“If I didn’t join this organization, school would be boring,” Enrique added. “I thought college would be a get-in-get-out kind of deal, but it’s been more than that. I’ve learned so much about this school being exposed to resources many others don’t get to see. All these people that I now call my friends and family have been supportive and have led me into the right paths. And they get me.”
Don’t let a too-cool-for-school attitude make you think getting involved is a waste of time. Even if graduation is near, it isn’t too late to join.
Photo Illustration by Pam Black