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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Get involved by joining student orgs

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a place of opportunity, first and foremost. There are sports, clubs, classes, people and tons of night life to explore as the semester begins and students and teachers alike flock to the buzzing city of Madison. Whether a freshman, transfer or returning student, everyone can be overwhelmed by the choices they must make when a new school year starts. The best advice for this situation: just dive in.

Diving in is easy for students living in dorms, where there are scheduled events to help meet new people and there are activities (like running or watching movies) that they can participate in to keep in shape or learn about new things. It can be more difficult for the off-campus student, but not impossible.

Students who want to get involved with their school and their peers should seriously consider attending the Student Org Fair. Here, the school’s clubs present themselves and explain what they are all about. Students can sign up to help out in charities, join an intramural sports team, get on a dance squad or even practice a foreign language.

Because there is so much going on at UW-Madison, there is really no way to know if a certain activity will work for a particular student.  The first step is to go to the Org Fair and sign up for a few different things. By trying a little of everything, students can get to know their peers while learning about themselves, as well.

Of course, one person cannot possibly do everything, so it is important to remember that it’s okay to quit something if you don’t love it. Neuroscience club might have looked really interesting at first, but by November it might be too much science if you have a math-and-chemistry-dominated schedule. The same goes for nonacademic extracurriculars. Everyone loves cheese, but taste-testing each week might feel redundant for someone who is also involved in a baking club.

The key is to continue to join different organizations and find the ones that are the right fit, all while keeping an open mind. Some people just aren’t suited for organized activities and prefer to meet friends in their dorms or apartments and explore the world that way. And in Madison, students only need to walk out their door to find all kinds of opportunity waiting.

That being said, students should beware the pitfall of attending a big university. Badgers love their sports teams, the holidays and just about every other reason for celebration a person can think of. Parties are wild and exciting, and joining in the festivities is a part of college. However, balance is essential.

Each student has his or her own sense of equilibrium and own expectations of a college experience. Keep in mind that there are many ways to have fun in Madison, and no one should confine themselves to a single type of college experience. The beauty of a big school is the opportunity to engage in traditional classroom learning, to interact with other cultures, to cheer for sports and to see true art on a daily basis. This fall, everyone should try to take a bite out of each kind of college experience and see and do everything they possibly can.

Kate is a sophomore majoring in English and Spanish. Please send all feedback to

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