At a young age, we learn that making friends and maintaining relationships is key to ensure that we do not feel lonely and have a sense of purpose and security. Building a community helps you adapt to your new environment and helps prevents you from isolating yourself. This can be done by joining friend groups, participating in extracurricular activities, and joining study groups. Without building a firm and supportive community, becoming successful in college can be very difficult. Having people around you that enjoy the same activities as you or go through the same struggles, will help you excel both academically and socially. Building a community at your college is the most important step to becoming successful in your college career.
Firstly, making friends during the early days of your first semester of college is a very important step on your road to success. Living on campus helps a lot with this process by giving you roommates and a whole building of people to give you support and community in this difficult transition. According to author Janice McCabe in her book ‘Connecting in College’, there are three types of friendship groups: tight-knitters, compartmentalizers, and samplers (McCabe). People in the tight-knit group tend to stick with one group of friends in which everyone already knows each other. Individuals in the compartmentalizers group tend to have around 2-4 groups of friends that they bounce back and forth to and from (McCabe). And lastly, those in the sampler group are those who have many friends who do not know each other because that person jumps around so much. Each of these groups have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to being successful. The strongest of these categories with the least amount of issues seems to be the compartmentalizers. These tend to be the ones that have a group of friends from high school, church, Greek life, etc. (McCabe). People in this category tend to succeed the most academically because they are able to receive support from various types of friend groups, some offer academic advisement and support and others help them socially. Similarly, ‘tight-knitters’ tend to succeed academically as well, however, this can backfire if the group that they are surrounding themselves with are not academically focused, since this may be the only influence the person is receiving (McCabe). Lastly, in the ‘sampler’ group, academic success relies mostly on the personal work ethic and motivation of the individual. Since these individuals do not have a stable friend group to rely on for this kind of support, it is shown that you do not need a stable friend group to be academically successful, but it is impossible to know if these individuals would be more academically successful if such an influence was present in their lives (McCabe).
Secondly, taking part in extracurricular activities, such as sports, also helps achieve success by teaching you many life skills that will assist you in several aspects of your life later on. Extra-curricular activities help teach patience and endurance in the face of difficult and stressful situations (Mountain Heights Academy). Clubs that allow their students to take on leadership roles allow their students access to experience in management and working together with others. Likewise, joining a speech and debate club helps overcome public speaking anxiety and gives students exposure to people who have different ideas and opinions than themselves. In many aspects of like as we mature, we will encounter individuals who we may not agree with on certain topics and ideas, but activities like speech and debate help build up the discipline and wisdom we need to handle these situations properly while still getting our point across. Sports and clubs that involve working together build up teamwork skills and gives them practice in holding on to a long-term goal (Mountain Heights Academy). Joining extra-curricular activities forces the individual to make new friends and in turn begins to form special bonds from newly discovered shared experiences and struggles. These groups allow students to make friends from different cultures and friend groups that they would not usually associate with because of a shared interest and passion. Time management is also greatly improved while participating in these events because of the individuals busy schedule (Mountain Heights Academy). The individual is now forced to prioritize the things that are most important to them in their daily lives in order to not become too overwhelmed. Lastly, extra-curricular activities help students discover their interests. Although core classes are designed to prepare students for the future and help them discover their interests, clubs and sports offer opportunities that these classes simply cannot.
Lastly, joining study groups is very beneficial in several different ways. In ‘Joining a Study Group’, author Valeria Burdea talks about these benefits. As you discuss different topics within your study group, you will begin to discover certain areas in which you are struggling (Burdea). Since this is a group environment, others in the study group may become more confident in seeing that you are willing to admit when you do not understand something (Burdea). It is comforting to know that you are not alone in your confusion and this feeling can greatly increase many people’s chances of asking questions instead of remaining quiet. We as students are also more likely to receive help from someone else in the group who may understand the material more than ourselves while working in a group environment. Similarly, if you understand something that others do not, you can explain it to them and reinforce it in your own mind at the same time. Being in groups that are focused on certain subjects also help us stay on track and assist in avoiding procrastination (Burdea). While working alone, it is very easy to get distracted by electronics or by simply getting distracted by thinking about all of the things that still need to be done in your academic and daily lives.
Building a close community is essential in having a successful college career. The switch from high school to college is very difficult and without loving and supportive people around you, it can feel impossible. Having people around you that enjoy the same activities as you or have gone through similar struggles, will help you excel both academically and socially. While doing this, you will be given the opportunity to make friends that you may stay in contact with for years and years to come. Through building your community, you can also become a mentor to other students who may come along after you. Building a strong, loving community has a great impact on the way you carry yourself throughout high school and whether or not you will have a positive view of your college experience in the future. Having a strong and positive community can also help prevent you from isolating yourself from those around you. Although getting good grades in college is extremely important, building a solid community at your university will teach you important life skills and lessons that will get you farther than you can imagine.