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Finding Your Fit

By: Charlie Klein (he/him/his), Peer Success Leader, 2019-2020

Read time: <5 minutes

After the extensive process of applying to colleges, narrowing down choices, and ultimately deciding to go to Tulane, it can feel like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders. You finally have your next four years figured out.

However, once you arrive on campus and everything sets in, you may realize that you feel a little lost in this new world. In high school, you had your friend groups, clubs, sports, and an overall familiar environment. Transitioning from this to a new place with new people may be overwhelming at first but rest assured there is a place for you here at Tulane.

Time has flown since the start of the year and we are already into fall break, allowing you to take a step back and reflect on your year thus far and your overall Tulane experience.

When you’re not in class or studying, how are you spending your time and who are you spending it with? Is there something you keep seeing on campus that you are interested in, but you’re still not involved with? Are you enjoying your classes or do the ones your friends talk about sound more interesting?

These are some of the questions you can start to think about. They all relate to the topic of finding your fit in college, which is a process everyone goes through. It can be broken down into who, what, and why. Who am I spending my time with, what am I spending my time doing, and why am doing it? Although very simple, this can help you identify what is and isn’t good fit for you. Try to ask these questions when you are at a club meeting or simply hanging out with friends, and I guarantee you will start to realize what is important to you and what you are doing simply out of habit/familiarity.

One of the best ways to find your fit on campus is by putting yourself outside your comfort zone and trying new things. My freshman year I went to the information session of an improv club, which was something I was not exposed to before. The concept was intriguing to me, so a few friends and I decided to check it out. While it ended up not being my thing, one of my friends felt at home in that environment and thus joined the group. Not long after that, I decided to rush on-campus business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi along with some of my friends from my floor freshman year. It was a completely new experience for me, and overwhelming trying to talk to the hundreds of new people there during the week-long process. This was so rewarding in the end, as I found a group of like-minded people and developed friendships with people from all different walks of life.

From these to anecdotes, I want you to take away two key things. First, if you tried something and it didn’t really feel like your place/people, keep on searching! The more you expand your horizons and put yourself out there, the more the opportunities will arise. Second, it’s much easier to do this when you’re not alone. Going to a new club meeting or a campus event can be intimidating, so try to encourage your roommate, people in your classes, etc. to join you!

Getting involved on campus is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to improve your experience at Tulane, but another way through which I acclimated to the college transition was through the more difficult aspects. In college, as in life, we experience ups and downs. While the higher times are the core of your college experience, going through adversity can teach you a lot about yourself and help you define your priorities.

The summer after my freshman year, I participated in the Business Minor Summer Institute, where I roomed with three random people who were also taking classes over the summer. I had a very heavy course load, was working after class, and was with a group of people who I knew very few of. Instead of looking at this through a negative perspective, it can be viewed as an opportunity. I was able to form new friendships with people that I wouldn’t have met without this experience, and we made the most out of the situation we had. Like I mentioned above, these hard times are so much easier when you’re not going through it alone. This experience helped me to realize what kind of people I wanted in my life and also in what way I wanted to spend my time. This can be viewed in a similar way to stepping outside your comfort zone, because when you put yourself in a new situation with new people, there is always an opportunity for something you would have never expected to come along.

One of the most important steps in finding your fit on campus is self-reflection and realizing what exactly it is that you care about. As mentioned above, one way of doing this is through trying a bunch of new things and then continuing with the ones that you feel the best about. As one professor told me in regard to scheduling classes, “sign up for all of the classes you are interested in taking, then after the first week, cut down your schedule to the ones that you are the most interested in”. A similar approach can be taken in all aspects of life, especially finding your fit in college. All it takes is finding that one place where you feel at home, but it is important to realize that it might take a bit of searching before this happens.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is simply not to worry. Finding your place in college is a different journey for each person, so don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. If you are meeting new people, expanding your horizons, and learning things along the way, things will fall into place.

There are unique, enriching experiences afforded to Tulanians as members of the community, separate from college party culture. Listed below are ways how I break from my Tulane bubble.

Food

Now that we have The Commons, the on-campus options are top notch, but you can’t ignore the amazing cuisine that’s available in this city. While I’d love to suggest G.W. Fins & Emril’s Delmonico, the white table cloths are a reserved for special occasions (especially for us college students). But there are plenty of delicious affordable restaurants close to campus. Panchitas has authentic Mexican cuisine, Mahoney’s has amazing seafood, and Bearcat Café has to be my favorite brunch spot. I could go on and on, but I challenge you and your friend to try some new places

Music

Music is all around us here in New Orleans, and it is a great way to venture off campus and into the city. From Jazz bands playing on Frenchman street to the amazing venues like the Orpheum and the Fillmore, there’s music for every mood here.

The "Nola" Experience

The culture is what sets NOLA apart and makes it so unique. If you’re not a freshman, I’m going to assume you’ve experienced Mardi Gras, which is perhaps the prime example of New Orleans’ rich culture. Beyond that, there is so much here to explore. The unique architecture that changes as you move through the city, the swampy surrounding landscape, local festivals, beautiful parks, we really have it all here.