By Dillon O’Toole
It hasn’t fully hit me yet but my time here at Binghamton is almost at an end. The realization that I am only a few weeks away from graduation has been a slow burn and I can only imagine how I will feel come the week of graduation. But looking back, it really hasn’t felt like I have been in college for four years. With COVID hitting during my second semester here, my experience as a student living on campus came to an unceremoniously sudden end. That doesn’t mean I don’t have any (actual) advice that students here in Binghamton may find useful.
During my time here at Binghamton, one of the major complaints I have seen online has been people having trouble making friends or just meeting new people in general. This can seem especially daunting if, like me, you are not a big fan of parties and similar events. To these people, I have only one suggestion: join some clubs that seem interesting. I know it may seem awkward at first, but this is normal. Not everyone is a social butterfly who will just naturally click with every person they meet. To use myself as an example, when I joined the Review as a freshman it took time before I began to feel comfortable speaking up in meetings. I’m naturally introverted but eventually, I found a great group of friends through my time in this club that I never would have met had I not joined the club. This is not me explicitly endorsing Binghamton Review by the way, showing up and getting to know people works for any club on campus. And if you already have a declared major, doing this among your peers will also lead you to get to know people who will be taking classes with you. Naturally, you most likely won’t become friends with every single member of your club or major, but putting in the effort to actually go out and get to know people should let you meet at least a few people.
This may seem hypocritical coming from a guy who only spent a semester and a half living on campus, but don’t feel like you have to go and live off campus as soon as possible. By all means, if you have a group of friends who want you to live with them off campus, consider the offer. But living on campus has its own set of benefits when compared to living off campus. The biggest advantage is obviously how close you are to your classes, but something you may not have considered is the fact that living on campus gives you a guaranteed space where you can go between classes. I have found myself on several occasions wishing I had a dorm to go to between classes, as driving back to my apartment between classes doesn’t always seem worth it when looking at the amount of time I have between classes. And yes, I know that there are certain places to sit on campus but the people who sit there must camp there because no matter how early I get to the Science II hallway those booths are always full.
Knowing how to balance schoolwork and personal time is a crucial skill to develop. It probably has been the thing I have struggled with the most in college, well besides Electromagnetic Theory I and II. It is essential to not fall into the trap of the extremes, that is don’t be the person who only parties and has fun and also don’t be the person who only studies all the time. This is just my opinion, but neither of those types of people are properly experiencing college. Arguably, this last year has been the best. I have balanced both fun and schoolwork, and personally I have felt much more satisfied with my time than I was when my time wasn’t as balanced. To top it off I still am a major procrastinator, so if I can somehow balance my time better anyone should be able to.
College is a time for you to change as a person. Even if you don’t think it will change you, it most certainly will. This change may be rather minor, or it may be rather large, but I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t changed at all during this time of their life. That is why I think it’s critical to approach your time here in Binghamton with an open mind. Try some new things, go and meet some new people, even if you were previously introverted. You may think it will be difficult to do this, and it may in fact be difficult, but what is life without some hardships? I know the me in high school would never have voluntarily run for an officer position in a club. That me would have also been reluctant to “act” in YouTube films (although I’m not sure you can call my performance acting). I guess what I’m saying is to take advantage of the fact that you can meet new people in this place called college, and use that advantage to enhance this experience we call life.
On one final note, this article will be the last one I write while I’m a student here at Binghamton. I’m not going to say it’s the last thing I will ever write for this club, but regardless it feels like a chapter of my life is coming to a close. That’s why I wanted to write this article. I’m truly grateful for the people that I have met here, and I hope anyone reading this finds a group of people that they too will be truly grateful for meeting.