College is not easy.
General Education requirement can seem pointless, crying because you miss your family and dog happens often and eventually, Ramen Noodles begin to taste like cardboard. However, despite all the many reasons a student could drop out of college, the likelihood of a student dropping out because they do not feel as though they belong, is high.
Of the seven main reasons students have been known to leave Southern Utah University, a lack of belonging and involvement appears on the list. Other reasons include health problems, trouble finding employment and academic performance. Why is it that something so simple causes so many students to leave?
Students often find Cedar City can be a difficult place to be involved. It is extremely small for many students, especially our large populations of students from Las Vegas and northern Utah. There are not bright lights and exciting events happening every night, which is a challenge for many students. However, these students often forget to look at the reason they came to Cedar City in the first place.
Southern Utah University offers many ways (more than I can count) for students to get involved and find belonging. With over 140 clubs, incredible outdoor activities at our fingertips, a Student Programming Board that produces fun events and 10,000+ other students in the same boat, it should not be difficult to find your niche at SUU.
As an Assistant Coach for Excellence and Success on campus, I work with first-year students on a daily basis. They often struggle to feel productive and feel as though they are making a difference anywhere besides the classroom. Each time this occurs, I immediately ask how they are involved on campus. More often than not, I am saddened by the response that they are not involved.
Being involved in college is more important than most people realize. Let me reiterate this idea… BEING INVOLVED IN COLLEGE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. The more students are involved and feel as though they belong, the more likely they are to continue their education, be successful and happy and feel more accomplished by the time they graduate.
Yes, a student’s involvement can lead to higher retention for the institution, but it can also lead to lifelong friendships, a well-rounded resume, leadership opportunities and much more.
Having attended a semester at another university (I regret every decision I made to clothe myself in Weber State purple), I have somewhat of an idea as to what involvement can be like at other institutions. Coming to Southern Utah University was the greatest decision I made as far as finding a sense of belonging is considered. This is something I wish other students recognized.
Becoming involved at SUU is not difficult. There are opportunities provided each and every day for students to get involved and discover their sense of belonging. I was shocked upon arriving at SUU, when I was able to immediately become involved. Opportunities were placed in front of me and I have not regretted taking any of them.
Although getting involved can be intimidating at first, it is important to remember that college is a time for taking risks (smart, healthy risks, of course) and discovering who you are as an individual. Finding the courage to join a club, sign up for open mic night or attend Bread and Soup Nite alone in hopes of meeting a friend, are all risks that could provide incredible benefits.
If I could give advice to any college student, it would be this: Do not be afraid to take chances and put yourself out there. College is a time to reinvent yourself and follow all of your passions. Get involved and truly find where you want to belong.
In 20 years from now, I do not want to look back and wish my college experience was something that it was not. Failure to be involved and find my sense of belonging would cause me to do so. I hope each and every student at Southern Utah University takes the scary, yet necessary, first steps to get involved and find their place.
So, I ask you, just like I ask struggling, first-year students, how are YOU getting involved at SUU?