Lieberman: For freshman, Fall Quarter should be about embracing disorder

Matt Lieberman, Columnist

Growing up, I always saw the college experience depicted in movies as a time to become heavily involved with on-campus organizations, delve deep into academics and form a lifelong group of friends. In my first few weeks at Northwestern, I realized that the beginning of freshman year is not necessarily the time to live like that nor should it be.

Six weeks into freshman year, I have learned a great deal both inside and outside the classroom about myself, others and this university. By taking advantage of the wide range of academic, social and extracurricular opportunities offered on campus, rather than diving too deep into one or two of those opportunities, I feel like I have found a balance that maximizes my learning experience on campus.

Although depth in activities can eventually prove to be the optimal learning experience, I have found Fall Quarter has been the best time to embrace disorder. In light of new people and experiences, Fall Quarter can prove to be a hectic experience. I too have felt the undeniable temptation to try to quickly settle right in. It is only natural to want to hang out with dorm neighbors, PA group friends or the people I knew prior to college.

I would advise my fellow freshman to resist those temptations.

For at least the first few weeks of Fall Quarter, we should worry less about “finding our people” and more about finding people to connect with in general.  On a campus with more than 8,000 undergraduates, there are vast opportunities to meet and learn from a variety of people. To only make an effort to spend time with those in your dorm, or those who you knew before school, is to limit your opportunities.

Go to a different part of campus to study. Sit with different people at meals. Though getting to know people beyond a surface level is of course beneficial, it is also important to broaden social circles during these first months. As friend groups begin to slowly evolve, we will be grateful we made an effort to keep a wide circle. At a certain point in our college experience, we will hopefully form those meaningful connections, whether those are with fellow club members, teammates, Greek brothers and sisters or just friends from class.

It is only natural to start off by becoming heavily involved with the clubs similar to the ones we did in high school. But, once we’ve settled into life at NU, we will get the opportunity to solidify our involvement. For now, instead of sticking with what we know, we should try something new and take advantage of all of the opportunities available to us. With more than 400 extracurricular organizations on campus — from a capella groups to religious organizations –– students should shop around, rather than diving too deep into one organization. There is plenty of time for this throughout the rest of our college careers.

Eventually feeling fully a part of something on our campus is the ideal scenario that we freshmen aspire to. But if we succumb to the pressure to become over-involved with just one activity or social group, we are limiting ourselves from other potential possibilities. For now, it is important to keep an open mind as we head into a time full of opportunity.  Embrace the disorder –– Fall Quarter is the best time to do it.

Matt Lieberman is a Medill freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.