Commentary: Students new, old urged to try new things this school year

Almost everyone who attends Shippensburg University understands the significance of Welcome Week to freshmen.

Each year freshmen students arrive on campus a week before classes start, bogged down by dozens of multi-colored storage bins and dorm supplies with their parents in tow. Each day leading up to the first day of classes, SU resident assistants and orientation leaders lead freshmen through a series of social activities that serve as a promise of the exciting four years ahead.

Welcome Week is a major logistical undertaking that involves bringing dozens of student employees onto campus for weeks, if not months in preparation before freshmen move-in day. Because the festivities are meant to keep the freshmen occupied, the day-by-day schedule is kept full with activities that get students out of their dorms and interacting with one another.

It’s easy to remember the thrill of that first week and what was yet to come — the people to meet and the classes to take, for example. But that thrill quickly fades as the semester’s workload picks up and routines are put in place. Students find groups that interest them, places at which they prefer to eat and friends with whom they enjoy spending time.

Welcome Week does a great job of intermingling freshmen during their first week at SU. It seems once that week is over, however, many students find it hard or choose not to go out of their way to take risks with their college experiences. 

The administration can do all it wants to help students with the transition — including Welcome Week and the new “first year experience” program — but it’s up to the students themselves to make the most of what SU has to offer.

The feeling I had going into this year, my senior year, was bittersweet. I have accomplished much and made good friends, but looking back on the last three years I can’t help but be reminded of the risks not taken, the clubs not joined and the people not approached.

It’s an old but true cliche that your college years pass far too quickly. Each day, semester and year we all move closer to graduation, and our chances to branch out during this chapter grow slimmer.

Whether you’re someone who just experienced your last first day or your first week of classes, I urge you to take this year to try what you may have believed to be out of your comfort zone. That could mean something as simple as eating lunch at Century Café instead of Kriner Dining Hall, or joining an intramural sports team.

At this time in your college career it may seem like the possibilities are never-ending, but one day soon you’ll be staring back at these years from the other side. Here’s hoping you’re not doing so with regret.

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