Why It’s Worth it to Put in That Extra Bit of Effort
By Clifford Michel
Culture. It attracts us, it makes us feel whole. And if you’re a CSI student it, ultimately, alludes us.
Walking around campus, you’ll hear the same rehashed complaints amongst attendees of a college that is populated by a variety of age groups and students who often have to work as well as go to school full time.
It can feel alienating when you have such a strong interest and passion in a certain subject and you can’t indulge in it. College is universally praised as an institution that sparks ideas and allows for personal interests to grow through reading, discussion, and practice.
This might seem dry and unentertaining on its surface, but attach your passion to it and you’ll think different.
Perhaps you’re a politics junkie who craves to be civically active. Maybe you have a passion for the arts and are bent on both creating and observing its finest quality. You could be a business minded individual who knows the stock market like the back of your hand. Or you might possibly be a writer who wants a modest outlet for your prose.
Even more likely, you’re just a simple college student who wants to feel acceptance and community in any capacity.
First of all this is nothing to be ashamed of and you should actually be proud for developing such a keen interest.
Now the question is this: how? How do you go about developing and creating an environment in CSI?
The easiest way to get started is to be academically attached to your interests. Find a major that closely matches what you love. If your career path and hobby differ greatly, consider minoring in whatever matches your hobby and dedicate a few electives to it.
Try to avoid night classes if possible to increase your chances of meeting students with your age and availability.
Once enrolled, the journey gets a bit more difficult, because now you need to put yourself out there. Participate in class and don’t be afraid to make an offhand comment or two to those around you.
Some classmates will stay quiet, while others will pick up on your enthusiasm and authenticity—remember, there’s never a good reason to shy away from what you love. If you have something to say, say it.
As classes continue a best case scenario may present itself to you and your classmates may begin to mingle a bit before and after class. The uninterested will weed themselves out and those that are enthusiastic about a craft will eventually emerge.
This can take shape in so many ways. For me, it was when I got into a playful argument about whether it was fair to hold MSNBC to the same standards as Fox News. (Am I a media junkie? Guilty.)
Remember that in a college like CSI everyone has different schedules and might not have as much time as you’d like, so be considerate.
A semester can go by quickly so don’t be shy about adding some classmates on social media or taking down their numbers. Heck, if you’re really feeling ballsy go ahead and plan to take another course together next semester.
I’m a strong believer in the “two step flow”, which I loosely translate into this: the more things you share with a person, the deeper a friendship becomes. When I say “things” I’m referring to mini-categories that range from sharing classes to sharing extracurricular activities.
The two step flow model laughs at the fact that you share a class with a couple of people that share similar interests to you. It would be more impressive if you shared another institution of some sort, much like a club.
Yes, this is the part where I echo the advice of every college tour guide that has ever lived: get involved.
Join a club that shares a strong bond between yourself and your personal interests. Clubs are so enjoyable for the very fact that you get to regularly meet with engaged individuals who like the same things you like.
If there isn’t a club that exists or is active that fits you, be a trooper and go to the Office of Student Life to create your own. With two months of hard work you can start up and begin inviting other students.
By maximizing your on-campus options for immersing yourself in your cultural interests, you’re just about 75 percent of the way there. “There” meaning that you’ve reached the status of a socially-satisfied human being.
Now it’s time to up your game intrinsically. Everyone has alone time and instead of eating alone in the cafeteria or staring off into space during your commute, you should surround yourself with some productive media products.
I’m not talking about watching mindless shows on network TV or blasting or scrolling through your various social media feeds. I’m talking about provoking yourself with little tidbits that focus on what you like.
Subscribe to a magazine, buy a book, and download a few podcasts. You’ll be surprised by how rich your field of interest truly is and how much you still haven’t learned about it.
A close friend of mine who attends Baruch College started doing a lot of this early on last semester. He subscribed to Money, started reading The Wall Street Journal, and watched a ton of lighthearted videos that commented on current events in finance on YouTube. He became more comfortable in his field and felt more connected than ever whenever he went to discuss market trends with his friends in the school’s finance club.
I understand that a lot of this seems like a lot of effort just to get a taste of what students at more traditional campuses receive without blinking twice. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot, because life has a strong tendency to forget all of the “should’ves,” “could’ves,” and “would’ves.”